Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Flaherty denies using EI fees for surplus

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MARKHAM, Ont. -- Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty rejects a federal watchdog analysis that he's using high EI premiums to beef up his expected budget surplus in 2015.

"We do not take EI funds and use them to balance the budget. That's what the Liberals did," Flaherty said Friday in a media conference in Markham, Ont., where he was holding pre-budget consultations with local academics, business and community leaders. "We have stabilized and frozen the EI rates."

A Parliamentary Budget Office report released Thursday said the Conservative government may need to depend on artificially high EI premiums, asset sales and spending restraint to balance the budget by the 2015 election. "That is a matter of some confusion by the new parliamentary officer," Flaherty said.

The PBO estimated the EI fund will have a $1.8-billion surplus in 2015, almost half the surplus the government anticipates for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2013 B9

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