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CUPE National President Paul Moist says NDP leader Jack Layton is the only party leader who has shown any political leadership in the national debate on employment insurance.

While the NDP does not support the Harper government, Layton has said he will support the Conservatives’ EI reform plan as a means of getting almost $1 billion into the pockets of unemployed Canadians who need it most.

Jack Layton and the New Democrats are doing what’s best for the unemployed. It would be great if the other parties could learn from Layton’s example and put the needs of Canadians first,” says Moist.

While the federal government’s proposed changes to employment insurance are a step in the right direction, Moist says EI reform still has a long way to go before it can provide adequate benefits for thousands of out-of-work Canadians.

The Conservative government’s proposed legislation would cost $935 million, and would provide from five to 20 weeks of additional benefits, depending on how long an eligible individual has been working and paying into EI. However, the plan only targets “long-tenured workers” with at least seven years of contributions to the EI program over the past decade.

The legislation would help older workers who have paid EI premiums for many years, and that’s a good start,” says Moist. “The next step is to expand that umbrella to cover younger workers, and those who have been laid off from part-time jobs.”