"We are not interested in making it lucrative to pay people not to work, it's not what this government is about, that's not what the taxpayers expect us to spend money on...not making Employment insurance more generous"
Lucrative? It's fine and dandy to put money into re-training, that's a great idea. However, as unemployment creeps up, it's harder for people to re-enter the work force, because, well, umm, I'm no economist, but the JOBS aren't there. You can acquire all the new skills you want, but if the market isn't there, nobodies hiring, because we are on the cusp of depression, sort of hard to land a new job.
Extending EI benefits, in a time of economic crisis, isn't social welfare, it's not some great gig for lazy people, it's a temporary necessity. Quite telling, Fife assumed Harper was considering the move, then Harper rises and says he "isn't like some other parties", then starts in with making it lucrative to sit on you ass. This government, and the former Liberal one's, had no trouble collecting the EI cash cow when times were good, why can't we see some "generous" initiatives during a crisis.
Re-training is mostly a long term goal, it takes time to acquire new skills, and it's a useless endeavour when jobs aren't available. What you need, in a time of uncertainty, is too give people more certainty, extending the period where a person can get back on their feet is exactly how government can make a difference. Harper's solution, let people run out their claims, force them into welfare or other avenues, or just lose their houses, etc, whatever. A VERY cold response, that suggests a real detachment and an underlying "you're on your own" mentality, underneath all the feigned concern.