OTTAWA – Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty blushed and laughed when asked about his latest critic on Employment Insurance – his wife.
Ontario MPP Christine Elliott, a provincial Tory leadership hopeful, says the EI system is unfair to Ontario and the province should consider pulling out.
She says 30 per cent of unemployed workers in Ontario are getting EI support compared with 58 per cent in other provinces.
And she argues workers who paid into the federal program in good times should be getting more benefits in bad times.
But Flaherty – who has fended off opposition demands for more generous EI – says the Harper government has already spent billions of dollars on improvements.
He says the government has extended payments by five weeks while freezing EI rates and increasing training.
Sometimes he and his wife agree to disagree, he says.
“You know there are going to be times … where, as elected officials, Christine and I have different policy positions. That is to be expected. This is 2009. This is not 1909. We are emancipated people and she will think through her own policy positions.
“I don’t expect that we will always agree.”