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Laid-off GM worker still waiting for help

John MacDonald, 29, worked for General Motors in Oshawa for 11 years before being laid off in December.

John MacDonald, 29, worked for General Motors in Oshawa for 11 years before being laid off in December.

He’s single, rents a house in Oshawa and is currently eligible for $337 a week through employment insurance; at GM he was making more than $1,000 a week, after taxes.

budget hopes: MacDonald hoped for retraining funding that would let him take a year-long engineering program for nuclear operations.

He said he has been told he is not eligible because he only qualifies for 36 weeks of EI and the program is longer than that. Retraining funding must be substantial enough “that I could still have some kind of income to pay my bills and still put some food on the table.”

MacDonald was also watching for poverty reduction strategies because he worries rising unemployment will force more and more people into poverty, as well as infrastructure spending that would allow a young person like him to get work “right away.”

budget reality: “I’m not happy with it,” MacDonald said. “Not at all.

“It completely lacks any kind of provisions that help people who are going to get laid off.”

He said he might be eligible for five more weeks of EI, but he remains doubtful that he qualifies for retraining, despite the funding announced.

He was frustrated the budget did not appear to make more people eligible for EI.

He said infrastructure spending would not help him find employment without training to go with it, and criticized the temporary tax credits for renovations: “You’re not going to retrofit your house if you don’t have a job.”

Aside from improved child tax benefits, MacDonald said, “I’ve seen absolutely nothing in there on poverty reduction.”

MacDonald watched the budget at the CAW hall with his former colleagues.

“There’s a lot of people here but everybody is very, very disappointed.”

coalition: “I hope that (Michael) Ignatieff and the Liberal caucus do not accept (the budget).”

 
 
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