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The Liberals have no plans to make Canada’s employment insurance fund independent of the federal government, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Thursday.

“I think the current system works,” he said in a round-table interview with The Canadian Press.

Morneau said new measures to help the unemployed are included in his recently tabled budget.

The NDP and Bloc Quebecois, however, have long wanted the fund to be independent to prevent governments from using surpluses to reduce budget deficits or pay down debt.

Employment insurance surpluses were $3.5 billion in 2014 and $2.2 billion in 2015, with the money going directly into government coffers.

The government predicts an EI surplus of $1.2 billion in 2016 and a deficit in 2017 when the Liberals plan to introduce a reduction in premiums.

Contributions to the EI fund will be lowered that year to $1.61 per $100 earned from $1.88 — a sharper decrease than the Liberals promised during the election campaign.“

– The Canadian Press, “Bill Morneau rejects making employment insurance fund independent,” CBC News, March 24, 2016

My pal Doug Nesbitt’s comment:

“Liberals and Tories continue to plunder our EI program for their pet projects. The EI surplus was $3.5 billion in 2014 and $2.2 billion in 2015. Only 40 percent of unemployed are now eligible for EI benefits compared to about 80 percent before the Liberals gutted eligibility in the early/mid 1990s. Those E surpluses are being cycled into general government revenues and are now financing Trudeau’s “middle class” tax cuts: the income bracket benefiting is higher than about 63% of Canadian workers’ incomes.”

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