Monday, May 28

Where's $54 billion in employment insurance premiums?

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear a labour movement complaint that the federal government is abusing the multi-million-dollar Employment Insurance (EI) program.

The country's top court has agreed to hear arguments from trade unions about how the federal government collects and uses employment insurance surpluses.

The consent by the court to look at the matter was announced on May 24. As is customary, the court gave no reasons for its decision and it is not known how long it will take before the matter is addressed.

The Confederation of National Trade Unions (CNTU) in Quebec is arguing that federal governments dating back years have abused EI by diverting surplus revenues from the program for purposes other than those intended by Parliament when the program was established.

Since 1996, it is estimated that Ottawa has collected $54 billion in employment insurance premiums while placing major restrictions on which workers are entitled to collect benefits.

To date, two lower courts in Quebec, the Quebec Superior Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal, have turned down arguments by the unions.


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