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Céline Hervieux-Payette

The Hon. Céline  Hervieux-Payette, P.C., LL.B. Appointed to the Senate on March 21, 1995 and appointed Leader of the Opposition on January 18, 2007, Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette represents the province of Quebec and the Senatorial Division of Bedford.

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Changes to Employment Insurance

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Statement made on 26 June 2012 by Senator Terry Mercer

Hon. Terry M. Mercer:

There is an article in iPolitics today, written by Elizabeth Thompson, called Summer Break Could Leave Hill Workers Stuck in the Path of EI Changes. When Parliament ends, if it ever ends, this term, hundreds of people are laid off around here because of their jobs, people in the parliamentary restaurant, the people who transcribe Hansard, et cetera. This happens often. At Christmas time, we have a six-week break. Pretty well every summer since I have been here, we have had breaks. Then we get prorogation every once in a while when the Prime Minister wants it. These people have always used EI to carry them through those breaks, and, under the conditions now, they are described as frequent users of EI claims. Now, after receiving benefits for seven weeks, they would be required to accept any work that they are qualified to perform and to accept wages at 70 per cent of their previous hourly salary.

We are blessed, in this place, with some extraordinarily good people who work and serve us either in the House of Commons or in the Senate. I would suggest that those people who are in that position, who now, after seven weeks, will be forced to take a job in another sector or to move someplace else to find a job, are not going to be available for us when we come back here in September.

I am surprised that this government did not think of this. I am surprised that people who administer this place and the other place did not think of this. Has the government given any consideration to how this affects the actual operation of Parliament?

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