Some interesting news on the bete noire of this particular blog (and a few others) today: Ottawa's egregious $54-billion Employment Insurance surplus.
Click here to read my previous thoughts on EI, but the latest chapter is that a number of powerful labour unions are taking Ottawa all the way to the Supreme Court to complain that the government is knowingly taking too much in EI premiums, and using the funds to pay for other government programs.
From the CBC's story:
"The surplus has been used to pay down debt, It's been used to give tax cuts to large corporations and oil companies, it's been used for all sorts of other purposes but not for unemployment insurance," said Byers. "That's money that comes from workers and employers for unemployment insurance. It's not an extra tax, it's not to be spent on other things."
I doubt this will lead to any sort of substantive change, but it's nice to see this issue maintaining traction in the media.
Don't get me wrong -- by and large, I like what Paul Martin did to overhaul the system in the 1990s. And in principle, it's a program I'm glad we have, to give people peace of mind for when life throws them that 10-ton bag of lemons every once in a while. So it's exactly the type of program I don't mind paying for, per se.
But based on the number of people I know who work, pay into the system, and then have their payouts denied or ridiculously delayed, it's clear something has gone amiss. It's not supposed to be another level of taxation imposed upon anyone with the audacity to hold a job. But with a $54-billion surplus that grows larger every day, that's exactly what it's becoming.
I sincerely doubt this lawsuit is going to result in Canadians getting some sort of lump-sum refund cheque, but anything that makes the system closer to what it's theoretically designed to be is OK by me. I'll keep you posted on future developments.