Mr. Eric Stefanson (Selkirk):
Mr. Speaker, I intend to be brief. I believe there is need for the amendment before us having regard to the inflationary situation and the high cost of living at the present time.
The hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Horner) said yesterday that this legislation was originally based on the insurance principle but that principle has gradually disappeared. He suggested everyone would be happy if we could return to the insurance principle, and I think he was right. The hon. member for Simcoe East (Mr. Rynard) and the hon. member for Kings (Mr. McQuaid) referred specifically to the closure of offices. I do not know whether the closure of offices has led to greater efficiency but it has certainly caused inconvenience and expense to the public. In my own riding the only office in the constituency, that at Selkirk, has been closed, greatly to the inconvenience of people in that area.
I wish to refer now to the way in which workers in country areas are disqualified from benefit and, in doing so, to support what has been said in this connection by the hon. member for Skeena (Mr. Howard) the hon. member for Kings and others. Disqualification is brought about in this way: an official calls on applicants and records them as answering one of the questions by saying they prefer to work in their own immediate area. If the area is designated as a restricted employment area, as is usually the case, benefits are withheld.
I am disturbed by this type of administration. If people can be disqualified on this basis I can only conclude that the act discriminates against workers in rural areas. Indeed, it seems to me that the only way in which people can be sure of their eligibility for benefit is by living in the large urban centres. Does the government want all our people to live in the cities? If not, I suggest to the minister that he and his senior officials should look carefully at the way in which
Unemployment Insurance Act workers are being disqualified in the rural parts of Canada. A number of individual cases have come to my notice. I do not intend to call attention to them on this occasion but I shall refer them to the minister personally later. I believe it is a serious mistake to disqualify people in rural areas on the grounds that they live in a restricted employment area. I submit the act ought to be administered in a different manner if people in all parts of Canada are to be treated fairly and justly.
Topic: UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Subtopic: MEASURE TO BROADEN COVERAGE