Monday, June 3, 2013

The New E.I. Tribunal

Last week, The Star's Thomas Walkom had an excellent column on Harer-led changes to the Employment Insurance Tribunal that turn it into a complete repository of patronage, rewarding the party faithful even more lavishly than those who have earned a partisan place in the Senate.

Some contrasts to show the changes are in order:

The New Tribunal

When the tribunal is fully staffed, its 74 full-time members will earn between $91,800 and $231,500 a year. (To put this in context, members of the much-maligned Senate receive a basic salary of $135,200.)

Of the 74 tribunal members, 39 are to hear EI cases. The remainder are to handle appeals related to the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security that are currently heard by other part-time panels.

A goodly number of the 48 tribunal members chosen so far are classic patronage appointments — failed Conservative candidates, local Conservative riding association chieftains and Conservative donors.

The Old Tribunal

The old Employment Insurance Referees Board consisted of about 600 appointees. Unlike the new tribunal, all were part-time and, as a result, received far less money. A typical referee might receive $2,400 a year plus expenses.

But the major difference is that the old referees were deliberately chosen to be representative.

For each three-person panel hearing a case, one member would come from a list provided by employers and one from a list provided by workers. The third was chosen by government.

Walkom goes on to discuss how the new panel is stacked in management's favour, will not allow automatic appeals to decisions, and will hear cases, not in person, but at home over the phone, the latter no doubt due to concerns over atmospheric emissions, something this government has proven to be a world leader in abating ;)

A Star reader in today's edition offers the following assessment of these changes:

Something lopsided about new EI tribunal, Column, May 29

I was disgusted to read in Thomas Walkom’s column that the Stephen Harper Conservative government plans to redefine the employment insurance appeal system, and make it even harder for an applicant to have a rejection of benefits overturned.

The old referees appeal board, consisting of 600 referees equally split among members chosen by employers, workers and government, and working part-time for a small amount of money, is far preferable and certainly fairer than the patronage laden deck of 74 faceless members Harper has appointed. Many of these appointees are Conservative party contributors or hacks, who have a vested interest in toeing the party line.

No wonder people have so little faith in government. The government’s proposed new E1 policy and rules are an affront to every Canadian who has ever contributed to the plan, and constitute nothing more than outright fraud.

Gerry Young, Toronto


  1. It's all about serving the wealthy, Lorne. They are the Conservative constituency. Every move -- every change -- is about tilting the system in their favour.

  2. It is a shame, Owen, that the national outrage currently being expressed over the Senate situation can't be harnessed and redirected at the less obvious abuses that such an orientation is responsible for.