Although federal Conservatives announced that all future EI dollars raised would stay in the EI fund, the government has no intentions of giving past surpluses back to workers. Recently, NDP Leader Jack Layton expressed his displeasure to the Canadian Labour Congress.
A clause in the budget implementation bill, currently before the finance committee, states future governments won't have to repay the money, Layton said.
Liberal and Conservative committee members voted to debate the clause for just five minutes, he added.
EI was created to help unemployed workers, but current and previous governments have treated the fund like free money, Layton said.
"This is $54 billion that belonged, and still does belong to, the working people of Canada," he said before hundreds of union representatives. "It was contributed by them and for them and it is being stolen.
"It is the biggest theft in Canadian history."
The NDP is doing everything it can to delay the bill's passing, Layton said.
In question period earlier this month, the NDP leader raised the issue with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Harper rejected Layton's claims the government is stealing money from workers, and he blamed previous Liberal governments for the misuse of EI funds.
The Conservative government has improved the management of employment insurance as well as established a $2-billion surplus for the fund, Harper said at the time.
The $54 billion from the EI fund has already been spent, and the Conservatives want to ensure the practice is not repeated in the future, the prime minister said.