NDP urges extended sick benefits

lfpress.com – News/Canada – EI: Party says cost of plan wouldn’t affect budget
Last Updated: June 8, 2010.   By PETER ZIMONJIC, Parliamentary Bureau

OTTAWA – The federal NDP wants the Conservative government to extend EI benefits to people suffering from chronic or long-term illnesses such as cancer.

People already get 15 weeks of EI sick benefits but NDP MP Fin Donnelly says that needs to be extended to 52 weeks and is introducing a private member’s bill to compel the federal government to act.

“People should not have to worry about how they are going to pay their bills when they’re fighting cancer,” said Donnelly. “They should be able to focus on recovery.” Donnelly said the chronically ill slip into poverty when they fall ill because they can’t afford their bills or mortgages when their EI runs out.

But when questioned, the NDP representatives conceded they had not crunched the numbers and therefore didn’t know how much it would cost annually for EI benefits to be extended.

The NDP also couldn’t put a figure on how much it costs the economy when people to fall into poverty once they fall ill, or how often it happens.

NDP MP Yvon Godin simply explained the cost of extending the benefits “does not affect the budget” because it would be paid for out of EI premiums.

peter.zimonjic@sunmedia.ca

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