Today the Riigikogu deliberated mitigation of the social impacts of unemployment as a matter of significant national importance. On behalf of factions, reports were presented by: Estonian Centre Party Faction – Kadri Simson, Estonian Reform Party Faction – Hanno Pevkur, Estonian People’s Union Faction – Mai Treial, Estonian Green Party Faction – Marek Strandberg, Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction – Liisa-Ly Pakosta, and Social Democratic Party Faction – Eiki Nestor.
The Chairperson of the Estonian Centre Party Faction Kadri Simson in her report criticised the Government, reproaching them for not regarding the rapid increase of the number of the unemployed as a problem. Simson recommended giving the unemployed the possibility to take odd jobs for up to the amount of minimum wage in one month without being deprived of the status of unemployed person. Besides that, in the opinion of Simson, organising of public work, like the removal of snow, should be made easier for the local governments, and the unemployment insurance fund should work out a system of mediating the unemployed also to private persons so that they could hire the unemployed persons officially.
The Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur stressed in his speech that the primary partner for a person who has lost his or her job should be the Unemployment Insurance Fund. The Unemployment Insurance Fund registers the person; the registration is the basis for health insurance and guarantees the unemployment insurance benefit. The Unemployment Insurance Fund also counsels on finding work and offers various services. Pevkur acknowledged the creation of unemployment insurance system and the system of offering training courses. Pevkur also spoke about the implementation of the system of work practice, coaching for working life and wage subsidies.
The Chairperson of the Estonian People’s Union Faction Mai Treial remarked that in order to improve the quality of life of people, it is necessary to increase employment opportunities and access to education and health care, raise the safety level of the society, reduce crime, offer social protection and reduce the backwardness of some regions. She recommended promoting part-time working, balancing of family benefits, unifying educational possibilities and tax incentives for employers.
The Chairman of the Estonian Green Party Marek Strandberg pointed out that unemployment is inevitably accompanied by change in the health behaviour of a person: the nature of the food consumed changes, stress level increases, being without work for a long time brings about mood changes and dispiritedness, and therefore long-term unemployment may cause irreversible changes in health. Strandberg remarked that the state should support the guaranteeing of jobs for young people much more than it had done so far and the provision of state-commissioned education should be planned clearly and in great detail. Strandberg presented the idea of introducing a system of parallel financing that would have the role of connecting enterprises and communities for solving common problems.
Member of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Liisa-Ly Pakosta spoke about the motion of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union to merge the proposals having similar content and budgetary cover into a law on supporting families experiencing hardship. According to Pakosta, first of all families with children should be given preference in the provision of state support and aid by creating legislative instruments for giving families with children the most protection from falling into poverty.
The Chairman of the Social Democratic faction Eiki Nestor spoke about the meaning of the unemployment insurance benefit, more reasonable use of the money in the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the possible increase of unemployment benefits, improving the terms of contract of wage subsidies, as well as the policy of creating social jobs.
Comments were presented by Urmas Reinsalu, Marika Tuus, Maret Maripuu and Maret Merisaar.
For more details, read the verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian):
The Riigikogu Press Service