Atlantic premiers tell PM to stop cuts to EI

Harper government more interested in cost saving than providing support services for unemployed.

Ottawa (02 May 2013) – The opposition to the changes to Employment Insurance program by the Conservative government has reached a new level.

Premiers join chorus of opposition on EI changes

Echoing concerns raised by Canadians across the country, but particularly in the Atlantic provinces, the Premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, met to discuss the implications of federal government's changes.

Premiers to Harper: Suspend changes

The Premiers have asked the Prime Minister to suspend the changes to the program, pending further study because of how the new rules negatively affect the region's seasonal based economy.  The leaders, who range in political outlook, are also concerned that the changes have been implemented without any consultation to the provinces most affected by some of the new conditions.

EI changes

The federal government altered the EI program in a number of ways:

  • frequent claimants of EI will need to prove they're actively seeking work and
  • workers must also accept a job within 100 kilometres of their home as long as they are qualified and the pay is at least 70 per cent of their previous salary.

Changes hit seasonal workers hardest

The Atlantic provinces job market is heavily reliant on seasonal workers in tourism, agriculture, the fisheries, as well as the public service.  In off-season, workers have a much harder time finding short-term employment. The new regulations may see many workers be unable to qualify for assistance because they are not living up to the Conservatives' regulations. If they do find work, outside their community, their increased travel costs will diminish any new wages earned.

Despite these concerns, the federal government has not been interested in listening. It appears most concerned about the savings the changes will provide the government: estimated at $12.5 million this year and $33 million next year.

Changes to be studied by premiers

The premiers will be studying the impact of the changes on their provinces and will present their preliminary findings at the premiers meeting in the summer. They hope to have a final report by mid-fall.

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