Ms. Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain, NDP): Mr. Speaker, not a week goes by without the Conservatives packing another board full of their pals. This time, their appointments to the new social security tribunal include donors to the Conservative Party, Conservative candidates and a former PC cabinet minister. The decisions made by the members of this tribunal directly affect the livelihood of out-of-work Canadians. Apart from being a friend of the Conservatives, what qualifications do tribunal members need to have, and what is the process for appointing them?
Ms. Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the government's talking points clearly do not fit the reality that Canadians are facing. There are five unemployed Canadians for every vacant job. It is even worse in the regions that have most to lose from the government's heartless changes.
The minister does not seem to care. If one cannot find a job, one loses one's EI. Will the minister at least admit that this is the exact opposite of what the system is meant to do for workers who have paid for this insurance?
Ms. Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain, NDP): Mr. Speaker, lost jobs, lost private sector information. I did not think it was possible for the government's record to get even worse.
Over half a million Canadians had their names, social insurance numbers, dates of birth, contact information and loan balances all lost, but it took pressure and several class action lawsuits for the Conservatives to react at all. Now, piece by piece, they are making announcements that frankly are not good enough.
Ms. Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well that her EI changes will force out-of-work Canadians to accept a pay cut of up to 30% in their next job, driving down wages and likely pushing some people into poverty.
The minister wants unemployed workers to simply accept low skill, low wage jobs or risk losing their benefits altogether. These are benefits that the workers paid for, not the government.
Ms. Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the truth is the minister's department is an absolute mess. The loss of personal information for over half a million Canadians has left people wondering if they can trust the government at all. Victims are now on the hook for over $100 million a year to buy back the protection the government so recklessly squandered. When will the Conservatives take responsibility instead of re-victimizing innocent Canadians?