Federal study suggests relocating

The Canadian Press
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OTTAWA — A new study from the Human Resources Department suggests Ottawa is looking at ways to get people receiving employment insurance to move to other regions with more jobs.

Such measures would go beyond the Harper government’s new policy that appears to require that some EI recipients take unfilled jobs but only in their own region.

A focus group study, completed in January, asked 75 people on EI in Quebec and Atlantic Canada what would it take to get them to move to regions where there are more jobs available.

The research, ordered last June shortly after the Conservatives were elected with a majority, required the survey company to determine “what type of migration incentives could encourage EI clients to accept a job that requires a residential move?”

Sage Research Corp. reported that the EI clients in Rouyn-Noranda, Que., Corner Brook, Nfld., Miramichi, N.B., and Yarmouth, N.S., all reacted positively to some proposed financial incentives, such as reimbursement for moving expenses or for travel costs to a job interview.

One “concept is to reimburse moving expenses for unemployed people who have moved and found a permanent job in another region,” says the final report, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

“There was a degree of positive reaction to this concept as an incentive from a number of participants.”

The study did not explore whether the prospect of being cut off from  EI benefits might also encourage a move to other regions, but focused instead on cost reimbursement.

The issue of EI changes has dominated debate in Parliament this week, with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty suggesting sweeping reforms that could include requiring EI recipients to take low-level jobs outside their skills and work experience.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley has tried to douse the controversy by saying the reforms would not require EI recipients to take jobs outside their regions or beyond their “skill sets.”

However the proposed amendments, buried in the government’s omnibus budget bill, contain no details or definitions, simply empowering the minister to change regulations without parliamentary scrutiny.

A spokeswoman for Finley tried to distance the minister from the newly released study.

“This research was commissioned by the department without the knowledge of the minister,” Alyson Queen said in an email.

“We have been quite clear that the intent of the improvements we are making to the Employment Insurance program are to connect Canadians with local jobs opportunities, in their area.”

Queen added: “We were not even aware of this report or the research being conducted. It was not commissioned by us and was not a part of our policy considerations.”

A researcher with the Mowat Centre, a Toronto-based think tank, said the study’s examination of so-called “mobility grants” is indeed out of step with the government’s recent policy statements on EI changes.

But Jon Medow also noted the Harper government’s new labour policies are already inconsistent, allowing some employers with unfilled jobs to pay temporary foreign workers wages up to 15 per cent below prevailing rates, further reducing the attractiveness of the often low-level work for Canadians on EI.

“It seems pretty incoherent,” he said in an interview.

The Sage report also helps undermine a long-held criticism of the EI system, that is, that more generous benefits in high-unemployment regions reduces labour mobility to regions with work available.

The focus-group study found that most EI recipients did not know their region had richer EI benefits than other parts of Canada, and therefore the more generous benefits had little impact on decisions to stay put.

“When the question of whether EI rules or ’generosity’ affect thinking about moving, the usual reaction from participants was a blank stare. ...

“Awareness that EI generosity varies regionally was quite limited. ... This low awareness indicates most participants have not consciously connected relative EI generosity to their thinking about moving.”

Medow said the study’s finding supports his think-tank’s view that EI benefits should be uniform across Canada.

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Recent comments

  • Casey
    May 31, 2012 - 06:49

    Harper wants all NLers out of the outports so he can give your fish away to the EU. Push back!

  • Roland
    May 20, 2012 - 17:10

    I get it! Have us Nflder's go up to Alberta, to serve Macdonalds and Tim hortons, for the people working in the oil patch. Great plan Steve.

  • Dianne Palmer
    May 19, 2012 - 08:14

    Sortly after the cod moratorium I was involved in a study on out-migration and let me tell you the results were astounding. One small comunity in paticular with a population of aprox 500 ppl had 26 families leave! Just one example of what Newfoundlanders are willing to do to make a living! Did you know that according to Stats Canada 15,000 Newfoundlanders now live in Grand Prairie alone not to mention the tens of thousands more that live elsewhere! fact! The E.I system has a huge surpluss, it is the only fund that the Feds can't touch for other dept's and initiatives. I do believe this has more to do with the work shortages for min wage jobs and the unwillingness of ppl accept a position that could not possibly come close to paying the monthly bills let alone feed a family. Sooo sad for those who are die hard Newfoundlanders wanting to simply remain home, alot will have to uproot their aging parents or just leve them to fend for themselves. There is no doupt going to be another serious wave of out-migration in this province!

  • David
    May 17, 2012 - 14:04

    Move to the jobs? That's outrageous! The jobs should come to me, or else taxpayers should pay me for sitting on my arse. Oh, and I'll have gravy on my fries.

  • Duffy
    May 17, 2012 - 13:48

    Do not have the answers but something has to be done to stop the Welfare (they call it EI) for people who spend a lifetime working summers at fish plants and construction and then suck off the system each winter. They say "I have 30 years there" NO you have 30 summers there! I would love to sit around drinking beer and ice fishing 8 moths a year also but realize that several other people have to work full time year round to pay for that EI.

    • todd
      May 17, 2012 - 15:54

      Not everyone abuses EI and it is not welfare. Everyone pays into their EI so that if they lose their job, no fault of their own, they can still live. You sir, are ignorant. The reason so many are on EI now is because all that exist here is Newfoundland, oh wait sorry, like everywhere pretty much in canada besides alberta, is temp and part time work that gives you nothing. Oh course there will be people abusing it. but guess what? People also abuse the crap out of grants...oh yeah businesses! Why don't you learn a little more before being so ignorant. I call you the alex type..because I knew an alex who would just argue his point black and blue until you just have to give up. I will not play into your bullsh!t, you need to learn some manners. Most of our jobs are being given to foreigners and we are stuck with crap. I will move, but many cannot move, so go fk yourselves for trying to start stuff all of the time. Why shouldn't there be jobs here? I guess Newfoundland and many other provinces are going to be ghost towns while others are overcrowded with people who are fighting each other even moreso for work. Think of the repercussions for once. You have no common sense. People deserve to be able to make a living in a place that is suppose to stand for more. We are being treated like slaves now! Watch Canada fall you ignorant morons!

    • gord
      May 18, 2012 - 21:28

      "DUFFY", You are right, you don't have the answers and with your logic line of thought you never will. Many seasonal workers have no choice but to stay with the employer they know, they have years of service and a sense of loyalty. They know their job and perform well but for most there is no trade certificate,the family and home are situated plus the income level doesn't offer the option to relocate. What do you expect the seasonal business to operate on if you send their employees away, you'd destroy some rural areas. The EI fund is one of the richest and quite sustainable in fact the Feds have been drooling to find a way to legally access it to piss away in other departments. If you want to lobby your mind then complain to your MP to get this deduction reduced as it's really just another form of tax. You should try paving in winter or lawn & landscaping in winter. I doubt you ever caught this point.

  • P. F. Murphy
    May 17, 2012 - 11:20

    Another mainland "Don't Think Tank" prating about what they can't seem to fathom. Slant the questions and bias the results to get the conclusion you knew in your own brilliance to be true before you started. Well done, what a waste of money! More of Harper's financial mismanagement. Let's close down Calgary and Edmonton and relocate all Albertans to Toronto where all the jobs are. If I can get a few hundred thousand, I'm pretty sure I could produce that result. I'm not surprised though that anyone in Toronto would be unaware that it might take you longer to get a job in a region where there is a lower concentration of jobs and therefore you might need UI payments for longer to carry you through. After all that's not the case for Toronto is it? So it couldn't possibly be for the rest of the world, could it? How self-congratulatory! Common sense is in short supply when the streets are paved with gold and every thing is handed to you on a silver platter. How about transferring the nation's capital region and all the jobs that entails to Gander and see if that cures Newfoundland's unemployment. Anyone got the money for that study? People in Canada's peripheral regions are seen by Toronto know-it-alls as a convenient resources to be trucked from area to area at the lowest cost to the advantage of the worst employers to make the most money. After all they're only robots and have no paid for homes, young children, old parents or sick siblings to be concerned about, do they? The savagery and ignorance of Steve Harper is astounding! When will we be able to write this guy out of Canada's history books?

  • todd
    May 17, 2012 - 11:03

    lol everyone prepare to move from NL. wow, what a dumb study. People are willing to move anyways, but I have to say, to what? unemployment is constant. maybe you could do a study on why we have no career employment, nowhere to start off/entry level positions, and how employers are spending everything on chinese workers when there is no real "shortage of work" because their are canadians who are desperately looking for good jobs. This is the biggest load of bullsh!t I have ever heard from government and the most retarded study I have ever seen. Lets make atlantic canada a ghost town! LOL We pay for our EI, if you wanna take it away Stephen Harper, stop making me pay for it on all of my cheques! You essentially want to steal from us and pass many bills against our rights. Canada is turning into mexico. lets make tacos!