EI changes: Government 'scapegoating unemployed', says NDP

The Canadian Press
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Minister of Human Resources Diane Finley.

Ottawa is tightening Employment Insurance eligibility with new rules that hit repeat claimants hardest, but will force all on the system to accept lower paying jobs.

The government says it will put strict definitions on what constitutes “suitable employment” and what the unemployed must do to find a job in order to get off EI.

The new rules are expected to be in effect early in 2013.

The changes means Canadians will be treated differently depending on how often they dip into the system, or how long they are currently receiving benefits.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said the intent of changes is to get Canadians off EI and on to jobs for which they are qualified.

“We want to help Canadians who want to work get back to work,” she said.

“These changes that we are proposing to EI are not about forcing people to move across Canada, or to take work that doesn’t match their skill set.”

But NDP critic Peggy Nash accused the government of blaming the unemployed for the poor economy.

“What we heard today is the minister scapegoating unemployed Canadians . . . that they are not trying hard enough to find work,” she said, pointing out that currently only 40 per cent of the unemployed are receiving benefits.

Nash also expressed alarm that the minister could arbitrarily change the rules again at any time without consulting parliament.

For so-called long-tenured workers who have been mostly employed the past 10 years, the new rules will require that they accept a job within their usual occupation as long as it pays at least 90 per cent of their previous hourly wage.

The worker must become less choosy and willing to take a lower-paying job — within 80 per cent of their previous pay — after 18 weeks being on the system, however.

For frequent EI claimants, the rules will be far stricter, the government says.

Canadians who have been on the system at least three times for a total of 60 weeks over the past five years will be expected to take a similar job that pays at least 80 per cent of the previous rate. But that’s only for six weeks — after that they would be required to take any job they are qualified for at 70 per cent of the previous pay.

The government has also created a third, in-between category called occasional claimants. They will need to accept work that pays at least 90 per cent of their previous scale in the first six weeks, 80 per cent in the next 12 and 70 per cent after 18 weeks on benefits.

The majority of claimants — 58 per cent — fall in this category, the minister said.

The government said it will also make it easier for the unemployed to find work by issuing them two “job alerts” a day by email informing them of available work.

As well, the government intends to link the EI system with the temporary foreign workers program to ensure Canadians are aware of employers’ needs for workers.

“Bringing in temporary foreign workers is not acceptable, especially when we have Canadians willing to work,” she said.

But in return, those on benefits will need to prove to government officials that they are genuinely looking for work, including applying for positions, attending interviews and keeping a record of their search activities.

In most circumstances, Canadians will need to accept an available job that is within an hour’s commute of their home.

Policing the new rules is another matter. Finley says the government will spend an additional $21 million, but that the majority of that funding will go to the job alert system and not toward hiring civil servants to enforce the rules.

Government officials say it is difficult to assess how much the new regulations will save the system, but expect that fewer than one per cent of the half million claimants will be cut off.

The Harper government first said in its March 2012 budget that it would “clarify” who can continue to receive benefits, taking aim at people with a long history of claiming EI.

The government’s omnibus budget implementation bill contains measures to overhaul key conditions for EI claimants, but does not provide much detail about how the new rules would work.

Statistics Canada says 549,000 people were getting regular EI benefits in March, a figure little changed from the previous month. In fact, the agency says, the number of beneficiaries has been relatively stable since last September.

There were more people receiving benefits in March in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick, but the number fell in Alberta.

To receive benefits, individuals must first submit a claim and the number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

Nationally, the number of initial and renewal claims totalled 234,200 in March, essentially unchanged for the sixth consecutive month.

Provincially, claims fell 2.9 per cent in Ontario, 2.6 per cent in British Columbia, and 1.7 per cent in Alberta, while they rose 2.6 per cent in Quebec and 1.1 per cent in New Brunswick.

The April unemployment rate was 7.3 per cent.

Uncertainty about the EI changes has prompted an outcry from some Atlantic premiers, opposition critics and organized labour.

Finley’s department has stopped sending Statistics Canada key and current information about how much federal money is flowing to each of the provinces for EI claimants, The Canadian Press has learned.

Three tables normally produced with Statistics Canada’s monthly EI summary are now “frozen,” according to the agency website.

But the government says it plans to send more job-availability information to unemployed people in the hope of finding them a job.

Statistics Canada said Wednesday there were about 237,000 unfilled jobs in February. That’s about one available job for every 5.8 unemployed workers.

The federal Conservatives have frequently expressed frustration at the number of jobs going unfilled even as the pool of unemployed workers remains large, but Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, issued a release saying the Statistics Canada numbers rebut the government’s contention.

“Despite such evidence the government wants to ram through parliament dramatic changes to Employment Insurance that are fundamentally wrong and unfair to working people,” said Georgetti.

Organizations: Employment Insurance

Geographic location: OTTAWA

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Recent comments

  • Derrick
    March 03, 2013 - 20:01

    The thing is as a fellow human being I can't believe what you are saying!!!You are crazy the system is a failure. Do you people even know that EI money is money we earned by working and is deducted off every pay we get? Why we even have to apply when we become unemployed is a myster to me it should work like an EI bank account and we should not have to qualify to have our own money returned to us.Yes I agree there are people which abuse this system but thats because they have made it possible to do so. If it was more like an account you were depositing into and became unemployed for whatever reason you would be able to withdraw your money and never be able to take more then what you put in.The system the way it is now is garbage and to me it's a form of fraud on the governments behalf. It's simple we worked for that money they give us when we create a claim. EI is frauding us when we may never have a claim our whole working life and where does the money go? Do they give it back when we retire? NO!! it's theft. So ya they are taxing us on our earning pluss deducting EI so we work and they make money? F--ked up you people are idiots if you can't see coruption thats staring you in the face and laughing at you.

  • Seasonal worker
    May 26, 2012 - 07:04

    I'm a seasonal fishplant woker who earns $12.00 per hour and works on average 50 hours a week for a weekly wage of $600.00 over a period of 14 to 25 weeks each year. Under the new system, if I get a job offer from Macdonalds for $10.00 per hour and 30 hours a week for a weekly wage of $300.00, will I have to accept it? Although the $10.00 per hour is over 80 % of the hourly wage I recieve at the plant, the weekly amount of my pay would be 50% of what I now make.

    • a business man
      May 26, 2012 - 08:14

      so instead of working for $10/hour, you would rather have the rest of us subsidize your life? Disgusting! Maybe should should move away during your off months and earn a living. You sound like you believe you are entitled to a wage better than $10. But when I read your post, and you say you would go to McDonalds, that tells me that you are likely uneducated and unskilled, which means that your limited earning potential is the direct result of your lack of education and you decision to be a fishery worker. Your decision = your problem. I don't want to pay for the solution. Frankly, I hope that the fishery dies and all the fishplants close down. Then, thankfully, the fishery workers who abuse EI will not be able to qualify for EI and thus cannot abuse it again and again.

  • al cooper
    May 25, 2012 - 18:59

    Harper seems to be of the opinion that he can do whatever he wants. I think its time we all take lessons from the students in Quebec. There obviously is strength in numbers.

  • Hand Up
    May 25, 2012 - 17:14

    I support the reforms, as how I understand them. They do not attack seasonal workers. They help out lazy workers or able-bodied non-workers. No problem with a fisher or logger not working in the winter if they go flat out during the seaons. However, there is a major problem with people just working enough to get enough hours to draw unemployment and then refuse to work until their unemployment runs out. These lazy workers are a drain to the system they abuse. The reforms help get these people into a regular normal work routine. We should also try to help the generational life-long welfare abusers to get off the system if they are able to work. The abuse on both fronts hurts those who actually need to system. Bravo Harper!

  • Shawn
    May 25, 2012 - 13:15

    Most that agree with these changes don't see the big picture and the trickle down effect that it's going to have on all of us. If an employer knows that his workers are going to work for 30% less if they are laid off from their regular job for whatever reason, it's only natural that the employer will then want to reduce his/her wages by 30% as well. This and other residual effects(lack of student jobs,ect) will affect alot of you/us that don't use EI. The lower wage trends will continue while the cost of living will still continually rise. Where does that trend lead us? It leads the 99% to the poor house while the 1% line their pockets once again with our money. I also know where it will lead many....right to the underground economy. Smooth move Steve...I guess you were right on the money when you said after 4 more years, you won't recognize Canada...that's because it will look like the US.

  • Alison
    May 25, 2012 - 12:54

    So Mr. Harper, it seems like you weaseled your way into the Prime Ministers position so that you can slowly take away the dignity every single citizen in this "beautiful" country is deserving , and turn them into a poverty stricken and oppressed population. There are many men and women in this world who crave power and the ability to control those lower on the social food chain, and there seems to be less and less men and women with power who are willing to grow a back bone and stand up for the rights of their citizens. As I was reading through some of the comments I realized just how misinformation, and how the serious lack of the ability to critically question what we are told as 'fact' by others is creating a war between individuals, families and communities who should be working together to create a better quality of life for themselves and each other. It is not our next door neighbors who are forcing us to take lower paying jobs that not even a single person could live off of. Many single mothers rely on EI. No, not because they are lazy or are 'uneducated'. For a single mother to take a minimum-wage job at McDonalds, she would need to find child care for her children, which is seriously lacking and expensive in this province. A weeks wages might pay for the child care services. Now what about rent? The housing in this province has sky rocketed and yet, minimum wage stays the same. A lone mother living in subsidized housing is being challenged by either the danger of the area or by the health concerns such as mold and asbestos present in most 'government housing'. Next issue, how is the mother suppose to provide healthy nutritious food for herself and he children when a carton of milk is 4$ and a Pepsi might be $1. Yes, most of you think, well that mother should do everything she can for her child to keep them healthy. That it is her fault that child services are being called to her house because her kids aren't being looked after properly. No, it is not her fault. She is being forced to take a job that pays less then what she would make on EI, which could barely cover costs before. Now she has to come up with more money for housing, food, health costs, child care, clothing for the children, or miscellaneous costs such as toys or money for friends presents, and most times student loans. So I want to ask all those reading this comment, should we really be blaming the person or should we be blaming the one single person who seems to be controlling all of our lives? If these new policies and closures are in place, are we benefitting from them or are we suffering? Should we band together to resist having someone else control over our quality of life or should be pitted against each other, which will lead to more loss, hardships and suffering?

    • a business man
      May 26, 2012 - 08:25

      So Alison, I take it on your planet, you believe that my EI dollars should be used to provide for this single mother and her kids. As someone who workers year round for a living, I could care less about this single mother. I mean, I wish her well, but I would rather give the money to MY kids and MY wife instead of putting the money into a system to support the single mother. I work hard to provide for MY kids, not other people's kids. I work hard to buy homes for my kids, investment properties, luxury cars, vacation properties....I do not work hard to pay for some strangers life......I did not spend 4 years in university, 1 year in graduate school, 3 years in law school and 2 years in business school to subsidize the life of other people. I did not invest $200K in my education to pay for other people to stay at home. This is why Canada is not an attractive place for investment......employers pay too much in taxes and premiums that benefit other people. When you start to make lots of money, you begin to realize how much taxes the government takes off. And when you ask yourself "what do I get for all these tax dollars", it is hard to justify the government taking 6 figures in taxes away (7 figures in corporate taxes from me). Those of us who work for year round are fed up of paying other people to stay home. Maybe the single mother should have been more responsible when family planning. I really do not know what the solution the the single mother's problems are, but I do know that the solution need NOT involve my money. It has gotten to the point where as an employer, the way to make the most money is to operate outside of Canada, where the Canadian government can only tax your capital gains. So, by offshoring jobs, I do pay capital gains, but I don't pay EI or CPP for workers...I do pay some taxes offshore, but they are much much lower.

  • Parker
    May 25, 2012 - 08:35

    Mary Lou..where do you live? Are you implying that employees are not taxpayers? I am an employee and last time I looked there was a large portion of my pay going to taxes.

  • Don
    May 25, 2012 - 08:26

    Good job Minister Finely. It's about time government put harder controls on EI. Don't worry about the crowd of lazy people and stupid union leaders complaining. Let them go else where and find a job like most honest hard working Newfoundlanders do. We, the working class, support you.

    • Derrick
      March 03, 2013 - 20:17

      You obviously don't know that as an employee we pay EI off every pay everyone on this site is confused. EI money is our own money

  • Terry
    May 25, 2012 - 08:15

    I really really have a hard time with the EI cuts. Atleast people who are on EI are making contributions and they are not getting that much in money or time back. But what I am having issues with why is the government cutting the working class again. Why not cut back on the immigrants that are coming into our country both legally and illegally. And why not get the people who are on Welfare off their a**es and make an honest living. Here's an idea send them to McDonalds to work. That would not be so easy. Everyone can count atleast 5 to 6 people each that we know that are on welfare and have been for years. and are claiming single and then popping out children left right and center. While on the welfare their spouse is off on the mainland with full time high paying jobs. Well this is the government for ya. Make the working class pay again. Thanks alot. And by the way I have been working for the last 15 years and not collected ei or welfare. And I am also a Canadian citizen. The welfare should be revamped. Just a thought. It is too easy and the immigration into Canada has to be looked at. My hard earned money is paying for someone elses to sit home and do nothing. While my meds are through the roof. It would be easy for me to sit home and do nothing all day.. But morally I would not be able to do this. Thanks for letting me vent.

    • a business man
      May 25, 2012 - 12:21

      Terry, the EI cuts will essential cut the funding of those who use and abuse the EI system on an annual/regular basis. People like you or I that pay into the system and do not use the system will not be effected if and when we do make a claim. The government is not cutting the working class again, but rather cutting a small part of the working class that is abusing the rest of us. These changes are a goo thing. I also agree that people on welfare should be made to do at least some work. Welfare should be replaced with workfare. the current system, for both EI and Welfare is wasteful and is being abused. However, I do not believe that we should cut back on immigrants. Businesses today need skilled and educated workers to fill the jobs that require skilled and educated people. Yes, perhaps we don't need immigrants that are unskilled and uneducated, but we certainly need to use our immigration policies to attract the top talent of the world. As a business man, I would rather hire a immigrant who has education and experience instead of a Canadian who needs to be trained. Simply put, I don't want to pay someone's training time....i would rather have a immigrant who is ready to go. I just sent some contract work to the USA because I couldn't find the talent in Canada....and I was willing to pay 6 figures for this role. In short, immigration is not a problem, but rather the solution. The problem is Canadians who sit ant home do nothing while people like you and I support a system that subsidizes their laziness. In closing, I do take pleasure in knowing that by offshoring jobs, I effectively take my money out of the EI system and its abusive seasonal workers. I am much happier giving my money to a foreign government. Frankly, these cuts do not go deep enough. The government should have done more to cut off the seasonal EI abusers.

  • kevin
    May 25, 2012 - 04:55

    Stop Harper !! Hes got to go!! Cuts to Fisheries and Oceans, closing of search and rescue station, more money wasted for Afganistan, EI cuts, Lavish spending by Parliment , with no accountability. It goes on and on. Quebec gets almost 7.5 BILLION dollars in Equalization payments every year( more than all the other provinces combinesd) Time for them to go. How much money is wasted on duplicating everything in French. Quebec is a financial drag on Canada .

    • a business man
      May 25, 2012 - 12:25

      Actually Kevin, this is exactly what I wanted Harper to do. I support cut to the fishery, I support the EI cuts. I am happy with the Harper government and look forward to supporting his re-election with large sums of money and by knocking on doors. If you want harper gone, then you need to donate money to help your party win, and you need to get out and recruit votes. I volunteered my time and money in April 2011 and today, the Conservatives have a majority and are implementing the cuts that I wanted to see.

  • bill
    May 24, 2012 - 23:54

    oooooooo herad Lana payne on news saying people would have to drive an hour wow how many people in this couuntry have to drive that long. try living on the mainlands and see how long it would take for you to get to work.

  • Tigz
    May 24, 2012 - 23:28

    Why are we paying for new parents to stay home for a year, receiving benefits? Do people really need a year of healing, before they can go back to work?

  • Diane
    May 24, 2012 - 23:23

    I would like to know how these new changes is going to affect seasonal fisherman that go out and make $50-$80 000 in 6-8 months and draw full benefits for the rest of the year? Wouldn't it make more sense to set an income limit of being eligible for drawing EI. Example: If a person made $50 000 + a year, why do they need the benefits?

  • Diane
    May 24, 2012 - 23:16

    I would like to know how these new changes is going to affect seasonal fisherman that go out and make $50-$80 000 in 6-8 months and draw full benefits for the rest of the year? Wouldn't it make more sense to set an income limit of being eligible for drawing EI. Example: If a person made $50 000 + a year, why do they need the benefits?

  • Misty
    May 24, 2012 - 22:20

    I still think each EI case should be assessed individually. Each case is different. As for seasonal workers who enjoy their job, who will hire them "temporarily" while they work only until they go back to their seasonal job?? I think we need to find out all the "new regulations", and then make a decision on how we feel with all the information. I agree that sick EI benefits should certainly be longer. Also, maybe the hours for maternity EI eligibility should be decreased after having a first child. I certainly do hope the government programs help people find jobs. There are so many people wanting to work who can't find jobs. Of all the job vacancies, how many can actually support individuals and families adequately?? Minimum wage should be increased, everyone's work is important.

  • Unemployed
    May 24, 2012 - 21:41

    @ Tara & Carla - I drive a Dodge Caliber FWD and I drive 40+ kms 1 way to work and I spend atleast $10.00 a day depending on the prices. So I dont think Tara has a gas gusling machine with the prices and a 2 hr commute to and from work it won't be hard. I know all about childcare and the prices of work. I work for more the min wage but with two small kids I need to put my kids in daycare which is 1200 a mth plus when myself or my husband works evening or weekend then I have to pay someone over the 1200 a mth to watch my child. Plus trying to get a fulltime job in Corner Brook area is horriable so I am parttime but when its busy, hoildays, etc I get 40 hrs WOW so I am looking at paying 1400 a mth just in childcare another 600 in gas because both me and my husband makes a commute to work and work completely different shifts and thats not counting insurance or anything else yet. So make EI harder because I have used the system a few time (twice was due to mat leave PLEASE someone else punish me for having a family). Ill just get my WORKING husband to quit his job and we will use YOUR tax money to say home on welfare. Seeing its the way of life here in rural NL and willl be more of it due to these stupid ways!!

  • DP
    May 24, 2012 - 20:30

    Everyone is talking about the fishermen. The fishery is dead - we've all known that for a long time. How about this: I'm a seasonal construction worker. I work 9 months of the year and average about 3000 - 3500 hours in that time. While laid off I apply for EI benefits to help me get through the three winter months when construction is stopped. By the gov's new rules I am considered a third class citizen and must be forced off the EI system. Fine. So instead of jumping through all these EI hoops I'll be heading back to Alberta where i can work for four times the money and do a quarter of the work. Sounds great eh? Now imagine that every other skilled seasonal tradesperson is thinking the exact same thing. Who builds your roads? Who builds your hospitals? Who builds your schools? These changes to the EI system are going to destroy the subsidized construction industry. That's right - construction is subsidized by the EI system. If every contractor has to hire tradesmen for the entire year the prices of municipal, provincial and federal infrastructure will skyrocket. Not only will the cost of this work increase due to the lack of skilled labour, but also due to the fact that these contractors have now added huge amounts of labour to their bottom line. If you think that the seasonal construction worker is leeching off the EI system then you're right. What you're not realizing is that that money is used to keep construction costs artificially low. Its a hidden subsidization that this government will be bringing to light in very short order.

    • a business man
      May 25, 2012 - 07:56

      DP - you are the perfect example of a person who should not be subsidized by the EI system. It would be better for use to bring in foreign construction workers and send them back when there is no work. I don't know how the changes will effect you, but I am happy that I will not pay for your 3 months off. Maybe you get another job, maybe you starve....i really dunno and most importantly, don't want to pay for it. You say that these changes will destroy the seasonal construction industry....I say GOOD! Maybe you should budget your earnings in a way that leaves you with savings for your off time instead of expecting the taxpayer to subsidize your living. Also, there are many other construction workers who can replace you. Yes, you may be missed, but someone else can do your job.

  • Paradise
    May 24, 2012 - 19:38

    I have to agree with the new restrictions to the system...I am educated, working full time, making a pretty good salary and only get 3 weeks holidays and weekends off. However, most people I know who fish for a living, on larger ships, make much more money then I do in a few months. Then after that, they can collect another ~$20 000 in EI. On top of the bug check they got for the 3 months work. Don't get me wrong, they worked very, very hard for it and most would not be able to handle the labor and lack of sleep. However, they have at least 6-9 more months to work and they should have to. We the tax payers are paying for the new quads and extracurricular toys while the big check pays for the big trucks and homes. It is really crazy how people can be so selfish...but when you are used to the $$$ being handed to you, how could you not be selfish. And yet the person who is off work due to physical issues, and ordered not to work, can not collect money if their EI runs out. It is about time things changed. If you are fit, somewhat able and available you should be forced to go to work and stop expecting hand outs.

  • Joseph McGrath
    May 24, 2012 - 19:20

    In case the business community and the federall government still does not realize it, EI is funded by workers paying into the fund. The business gets a deduction expense for its portion and the employee gets coverage in the event of job loss.Now I think we all agree that some abuse of the EI system does go on in a variety of different ways but the one solid unmoving base is the aid it gives most people who through no fault of their own need a hand when they are unemployed and finances are drying up..At least this foundation of the program will not change.It is the length of time one can receive it and the options for other employment that one must take that is being tightened.It is hard to find to much wrong with this at first look and only careful examination and application of the rules themselves that can really tell us if this is to be a drastic change for the people of NL who will go on EI.Of late it has been The doublespeak out of the Federal Ministers and corporate class that has reached an intolerable level for me. How about we look no further than the banking bailouts in Canada and abroad. Have the banks been paying into a federal profit insurance program? NO, in fact their tax rates have been declining for years. When they run in to problems, they turn to the feds and the government piles in millions of dollars to keep them afloat.There is of course great support and little but relief when this happens and the bank profits sore even higher,like this very week,while customers are nickled and dimed to death.Might I suggest we try the new EI program with adjustments being made immediately where it is obviously wrong and see how it goes.In the long run. I personally believe it is about to alter employment lifesyles for a great many workers but the effect will hopefully prove to be a positive one for a great many living in NL by helping them finally realize that "THE WELL DOES RUN DRY"and there is little choice but to look elsewhere for water and that truly is going to be a sad event for many who really deserve better!!!!

  • Dazed and Confused
    May 24, 2012 - 19:14

    I Know what to do lets start a campaign ............... Calling All Newfies !! COME HOME NOW , HELP ! your province needs you. Call your relatives , friends and schoolmates.... pack it up and come back .... They are gonna throw Grandma off the cliff and we have to stop them. The EI is another issue , they have to deny a percentage of the claims from now on .... after all they only have two thirds of their dept left so who would process the paperwork. Punish the most frequent users of EI while they work 3 days a week and our own House of Assembly works 33 days a year ...... meanwhile consrtuction workers have to punch 60-70 hour weeks for 8-10 months to make a good living so their families can eat in the winter. Hour for Hour who's worth more ????????????

  • Petertwo
    May 24, 2012 - 17:39

    It's all very well saying that people have to take work, it is another thing entirely to provide the work. Where is all the employment coming from here? People in cities have no problem there is always work available, but not in rural areas. The federal government ought to stop work being exported, before there is no one left to pay taxes. If companies wish to hire people and companies outside Canada, they ought to relocate themselves. They are not much of a Canadian in my opinion. Why the pipeline for oil to Texas? Why not build a plant and process in Canada.? Also what is all the hype about taxpayers mixed in with EI? EI is a separate program and the only time people qualify is when they loose the job they had for whatever reason.

  • Appalled
    May 24, 2012 - 16:35

    This EI reform is going to have much more negative impacts than people obviously realize - take the road construction industry for example. This is an industry that is forced to shut down for 3-4 months every year - you wanna work in a ditch in a snowstorm and/or with freeze/thaw ground conditions - sound very safe to you? You can't pave after the temp. drops below a certian point, so that's out. Can't pour concrete below a certian temp either, so bridge construction is out. There are many highly skilled, trained workers that are the ones to build and maintain the roads and infrastructure that we all use every day. The business shuts down, workers are unemployed, cant't get EI and are forced to work elsewhere for less money, further from home. The company starts back up in the spring and uh-oh....no workers cause they were all forced to take jobs elsewhere (which by the way would not be in road construction, cause all those companies are shut down). Now they gotta go hire and train new, inexperienced workers, with nobody experienced to provide that training. What happens to the level of efficiency or work quality now? Other option - companies pay these workers while they are shut down - any idiot can connect the dots on that one - no money in, lots of money out equals bankruptcy. What happens to the "viabrant" economy now? You wanna reform EI, I'm with ya - but you gotta target those people out there working strictly for their "stamps", not the guys who have a job to return to and will return to as soon as the company gets back up and running. The guys in the construction industry work the equivalent of a full year's work in a shorter season (you do the math on that one), so what is wrong with giving these guys a few months support from a fund that both them and their employer support? Crack down on the guys who work their 900 or whatever hours and then sit at home on EI until their benefits run out (and the employers who agree to giving these workers layoff slips). Or what about all those "able body" individuals pulling a scam on welfare? Why not get tough on those guys? In an economy that is crying out for workers, somebody please tell me how you can justify the existence of "able body relief" (also known as welfare)????

  • violet
    May 24, 2012 - 16:25

    What about the man/woman who has worked with a company for 25 years, and are laid off every year due to seasonal work...what are they supposed to do leave the company they have loved to work for and probably getting $20.00 to $30.00 an hour to take a less paying job and have to travel an hour or so outside where they live..then you know once the spring comes and their regular long time job is available again the quit the other job to return to the one they have had for years..this system just seems to be IDIOTIC for alot of people especially construction workers, heavy equipment operators...these people are going to be nailed to the wall and why should they have to take a lower paying job,when they have taken training and now the get the shaft ..why not GO FIX THE WELFARE SYSTEM AND MAKE SOME OF THE ONES THAT ARE ON THAT, THAT HAVE NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM GET OFF THEIR BUTTS AND GO TO WORK AND STOP SCREWING THE SYSTEM...NOW THAT SYSTEM(welfare) NEEDS A COMPLETE OVER HAUL....TRY Putting some of the government officials on money cut back jobs see how they'd like to live on it ...see how'd they like going from a 50,000 a year job to a 23,000 a year job they'd have a didn't story then...they need to re thinK THIS EI PLAN BEFORE THEY PUT IT IN MOTION...I BELIEVE TI IS TOTALLY UN FAIR TO ALOT OF HARD WORKING HONEST PEOPLE...

    • a business man
      May 25, 2012 - 08:00

      Violet - regarding the man/woman who has worked with a company for 25 years, and are laid off every year due to seasonal work, I really don't care about their financial situation. All I know is that I don't want to pay for their time off. They can go flip burgers, drive 10 hours to work, move or starve....I really just don't care. I am sick of subsidizing the off time of seasonal workers. I am glad the madness has stopped. You are right though in that welfare needs a overhaul.....but that is a separate issue

  • Rodger
    May 24, 2012 - 16:23

    I think this is a great idea, as long as they make the EI system a closed system, no funneling off excess to pay for other parts of govt. This way if everyone starts working more, EI premiums should drop and then everyone would take home more money to pump into the economy. EI premiums shouldn't be just used as an additional tax grab.

  • David
    May 24, 2012 - 15:55

    The arttention paid to this is evidence of this now foundational problem...EI represents most of the Newfoundland "economy", which is the actual problem. EI is not a career, it is not a lifelong free source of income, it is not a free ride. But it is here, which is exactly why so many peole have so much outrage. Give your heads a shake...it might release some reality-based thoughts.

  • Big Rig?
    May 24, 2012 - 15:44

    @Carl You say $15-17 for a 2 hour commute is because she is driving a gas guzzler? That would mean that her car burns roughly 6.5l/100km which is a far cry from a gas guzzler. I burn $45 for the same commute in my truck. People like you explode the situation to make people on EI look like criminals but say nothing about people who go on welfare at 18 and retire from it when they are 65. Rediculous!

  • Christopher Chafe
    May 24, 2012 - 15:34

    FINALLY!!!!!!! This is the first and possibly only smart thing the CONS have done or will do! Now those spouses who collect EI from their other half's crab quota or shrimp quota will have to either flush the toilet or get off it!

  • Wanda
    May 24, 2012 - 15:20

    EI Benefits seem to have become a way of life for many Newfoundlanders. Faced with changes to the system, people become angry and scared because low and behold, they have spent so much time having the EI system work for them, they don't know how to fend for themselves. I call it lazy and arrogant. Just who do you think you are!! In a civilized society people are expected to contribute not every now and then, but always. I was taught as a child that if you want something bad enough in life you have to work for it!! Those of you complaining about these necessary changes, I wonder what your children are learning?

  • Holden
    May 24, 2012 - 15:11

    All people who can't find jobs or only work for part of the year should move to the mainland( probably close to half the population). Then the valve of the homes of this crowd would be half or less what it presently is. Let's see how happy that will make them!

  • linda
    May 24, 2012 - 14:45

    to lane and unetilted .so i work ed 22 years of my life and ha/e paid my dues gi/e this program a year and then you will see the logic i speak off higher social assistance , who i am pretty sure cant handle the work load now ,employers that ha/e paid training programs only to train seasonal workers and then they quit to go back to their regular jobs .of that i ha/e no doubt.but lets ha/e it your way here in harperland .we ha/e two kinds of workers out there guys dors who ha/e to work and those who want to work .i am one who want to work put me and you 2 whiners at same job lets see who gets the job done .insurance is insurance in my /eiw lets all opt out see where that gets us right where we are headed .the logic my darling is we need to ghange our /ote next election or you lane and untitled will be left like deer in headlights wondering where all your right,s and money went to your so called poor go/erment .tell me what will happen to the make work projects ,untilted i am insured to the hilt no i ne/er got insurance so i could a/ail of it please god i ne/er will .but you 2 need to wise up .

  • Mary-Lou
    May 24, 2012 - 14:42

    The Taxpayer does not carry people on EI...it is a fund paid into by the employer and the employee....welfare, however, is paid for by the tax payer, and I can see a lot of people lining up there in future the way the system is going. My son has a physical and mental impairment. He works in the summers doing labour for minimum wage for a landscaper . He draws EI in the winters...it's how he supports himself and pays for his meds. What happens to people like him...they fall through the cracks...this should be evaluated on an individual basis and not lump everyone in the same boat.

  • tom
    May 24, 2012 - 14:35

    This is all well and good but this could kill rural Newfoundland. Funny enough, it says you must 'accept' employment. If you go to an interview and ensure you don't get an offer, then there is no change to EI. This is just going to hurt people who need it as usual. Habitual users will use the blown interview and the old college try as a way around it.

  • Duffy
    May 24, 2012 - 14:30

    90% of EI (Welfare with a fancy name) goes to those too lazy to work full-time or think they are too good to work lower paying jobs. I am tired supporting them with their 30 years of working summers and winters drinking ber and watching TV. The fisherpeople - with 20 years of Welfare and the wives collecting also and they don't even know where the boat is docked...........with phantom crewmembers who get EI and never board the boat so the owner can use them for tax purposes.....pays them and they give the money back. The working stiffs are idiots - like me for 40 years of full-time work. AND yes I moved for the jobs! Thank goodness there is changes coming......................

  • TARA
    May 24, 2012 - 13:05

    70% and an hour commute acceptable? I travel an hour to work....and it cost between 15-17 a day in gas, depending on the gas prices. Then I pay 30 a day in childcare...so that is a total of 45 a day. If you make min wage that means you're only making 35 a day before taxes!! You think that is acceptable?? What is going to happen is people will end up on Welfare and they won't be able to afford to work.....don't get me started on that...why is this not being pushed on lifelong Wefare clients??!!

    • Carl
      May 24, 2012 - 14:02

      @Tara: Yes, it it perfectly reasonable to expect you to work for "only" $35 a day before taxes (but after paying for gas and child care), given that the alternative is for working people to pay for you not to work. And if you are spending $15 to $17 a day to commute only one hour each way to and from work, then you obviously have a gas guzzler - probably a dirty big rig. And if you are an EI claimant, hard-working taxpayers have bought that rig for you.

    • Mary-Lou
      May 24, 2012 - 14:45

      @ CARL - Really - I commute an hour to work (to and from that's 2 hours per day). I drive a 4 cyl car and spend usually $20 a day on gas. I agree with Tara...make people on welfare who are able bodied work and look for work before being entitled to welfare...it's what they do in most other countries.

    • Commute
      May 24, 2012 - 14:49

      @CARL No trouble to tell you don't commute to work. Drive an hour on the highway to a city/town & then drive an hour back on the highway. You will burn around $15 in gas my friend. If those little eco cars will burn it because they work harder to drive the posted speed limits. 70% is a lot when you have to pay a daycare or babysitter.. I just think it needs to be better enforcement of EI & Welfare. Way too many people abusing the system

    • a business man
      May 24, 2012 - 15:05

      If someone can't live of minimum wage, then they should go to school and get an education followed by a job that pays more. If people cannot makes ends meet, it should not fall upon the taxpayer to give them money. I fully support the EI changes. That said, I do agree that lifelong welfare clients should face cuts too. Those of us who work and earn money are paying too much taxes, and part of the problem is people who take more from the system than they put it.

    • Chantelle
      May 24, 2012 - 17:41

      Agreed Carl. Except that she was a "hard working" taxpayer who also paid into EI and bought her own rig as you did your own "PROBABLY a dirt bag" Hummer. I hope she doesn't have a mortgage. The only difference is that you haven't been laid off--- yet!

  • Craig
    May 24, 2012 - 12:55

    I don't know why you people are singling out the fishermen. If you had taken the time to go and actually look at who the changes would effect you would know that fishermen are indeed effected. These changes are going to be hard on a lot of rural families who have become accustomed to using EI is a way of life. They are the ones who are going to get the biggest shock. I still think there is something wrong with a person working for a few weeks a year and getting EI for the rest.

    • Greg
      May 26, 2012 - 18:13

      Then they should move elsewhere to where there is work. I am not happy subsidizing someone just because they *want* to live in a small rural community out in the middle of nowhere. I *want* to live in one too, but I had to go away to work hard so I could buy a house, plan for a good retirement, and then I can live where I want because I've *earned* that *privilege*. Meanwhile, they are continuing to live where I want to live off of MY hard work.

  • Nikkie
    May 24, 2012 - 12:17

    I agree!! But no two ppl are alike!! Be sure to treat everyone different!! Now to get ppl off Social Assistance who doesn’t need to be on it and back to the work force! There are way too many ppl abusing that and far too many small families that could use it.

  • Mark
    May 24, 2012 - 12:09

    Linda, try putting in multiple claims for your home or car insurance and see what happens. If you're a multiple claimant on your insurance your premiums should be either increased or have stricter terms on claiming, which is what the government has done.

    • crystal
      May 24, 2012 - 16:16

      will it's like this now i lives in a small town in newfoudland and there isnt much work here at all so mostly its seasonal work,like fishing,fish plant or off loading the fishing boats and thos jobs alone is very hard and you works your butt off so yes ei shouldn;t be a problem to get when thats all you have in the winter you pay into ei when your working so why not use it if you have too,.my god what is this world coming too

  • Don
    May 24, 2012 - 12:02

    HOORAY !!! Make the rules harder Minister. People can flip hamburgers for $400.00 a week but that's not good enough. They want to come out of school and start of as vice presidents at business firms. Nobody wants to start of as office boy anymore and work their way up in a company.

  • Jo
    May 24, 2012 - 11:53

    I'm making minimum wage...can't find a lower paying job than that...so what does the government expect us to do?

  • linda
    May 24, 2012 - 11:48

    well,let me get this straight .i buy home insurance ,i am co/ered i buy buy life insurance co/ered buy car insurance co/ered buy ui insurance i say buy because i lose it from my pay ,oops federal go/erment says no we are no longer going to pay you .we are going to make it hell for you to collect ,doesnt the word insurance mean that hey dont worry ,dont stress ,you paid in ,you worked for it now your laid off because you are seasonal ,you are intitled to recei/ed ui ?now i ha/ed worked at my place of work 22 yrs. laid off e/ery summer .go back sept. hey life is good lol .now i ha/e to go take a job and tell that employer i only can work 3 months because then i am called back to my regular job ,so her we are federal go/. all us seasonal workers looking for a job that we will quit when we are called back to work .LOGIC PLEASE THER IS NONE .so all you employers out ther that think hey that,s great get your paperwork ready and your paid training programs geared because you will be training me and a whole lot more people only to be left high and dry in your peak season .and look out social assistance this is going to be a busy year federa go/ is sending a whole lot of people your way .

    • Not Entitled
      May 24, 2012 - 12:15

      to Linda: Insurance is not a fund you pay into with the expectation that you will make a claim. You pay into insurance to hedge against the risk that something could happen. Seasonal workers know they will be off work for a certain amount of time every year. That's not a risk, it's a given fact. The government expects these workers to attempt to take care of themselves by finding other work. No one is entitled to receive EI or any insurance "just because" you paid into it. You are entitled to receive it if circumstances unexpectedly leave you without income. You don't buy home insurance expecting your house to burn down the next day, you buy it just in case it happens. Those who buy house insurance with the intention of setting their house on fire the next day expecting their "entitled" payout are charged with fraud. EI is not meant to pay people for time off work, it is meant to provide people with means to support themselves if they find themselves unexpectedly out of work until they can find work again. It is something that is being terribly misused and abused.

    • Lane
      May 24, 2012 - 12:45

      @Linda: I understand your plea for logic, as you obviously have none. The logic behind these changes is that your fellow citizens should be forced to support you only if you need the support, and not just because you choose not to work. For you to say that you have paid for your own EI benefits is rubbish - If you have been laid off and claimed EI every summer for 22 years, then you have taken way more than you have given. These changes do not mean you will not have any support if you need it - They just mean you have to try to earn your own income before expecting others to support you. By the way, if EI truly worked as an insurance system, which you seem to support, then the government would either raise your premiums through the roof because of your track record, or refuse to insure you at all. That is logic.

    • Don
      May 24, 2012 - 12:53

      I have a teaacher friend in the same position. Unfortunately, summer is high construction season and pushing a broom pays $16.00 per hour.

  • TG
    May 24, 2012 - 11:37

    To PP. I agree completely. I was walking to work on a very hot day a few summers ago when two women driving a fancy truck passed me by laughing &yelling " Only fools and horses work". Only in NL eh boy?

  • Lane
    May 24, 2012 - 11:36

    Despite the negative spin in the headline, the new policies described in the article seem very reasonable to me. In fact, I'm shocked that they were not already in place. It makes perfect sense to require an EI recipient to accept a job that is within a one-hour commute and that pays over 70% of their previous salary. This is hardly draconian - in fact, it should be tougher.

    • john
      May 24, 2012 - 17:15

      Your clearly a pompous self centered fool who has never had to look for another job or accept 30% less.... for instance you donkey if you were making 20.00 an hour then you might need to take a job for 14.00. That's 240 less a week. That might not be much to your self righteous rear but it is for a family. This sounds like a good deal for corporations and business as it will help lower the wage scale as it forces people to take lower paying jobs. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

  • Just saying
    May 24, 2012 - 11:29

    Why not changes to the rules for someone because of illness. I have been lucky to have worked all my life and accessed EI only a few times. After a car accident I accessed sickness EI benefits for a total of 15 weeks.I was still unable to return to work, My sec.B of insurance was less than 50% of my net income. I was not insured through work. My neighbors who were seasonal workers could have EI for up to 37 weeks. Just didn't seem fair to me.

  • Nicholas Morine
    May 24, 2012 - 11:25

    Yet another stab from Hell's heart at the working and middle classes of this country. Why are we spending money in Afghanistan until the latter part of the decade, bailing out banks with taxpayer money to the tune of 114 bn, and yet turn around and cut people's EI benefits (which, I remind everyone, is not counted with general revenue but is instead funded by taxpayer's own premiums at work). People who agree with this law are either so wealthy that they've never had to face unemployment or working paycheque to paycheque, or so ignorant that they are easily misled by those same rich people to hate their countrymen who they share a lot more in common with. Show some humanity. We are more than just dollars and cents and a SIN.

    • Christopher Chafe
      May 24, 2012 - 16:18

      So I assume you have no problem in people leaching off the EI system as a lifestyle?

  • pp
    May 24, 2012 - 11:16

    How much do you want to bed it does NOTHING to address those "fisherpersons" who have their own set of rules when it comes to EI? The make up-coated wife in highheels who's never been on a boat in her life but drives the fancy diesel truck to Winners everyday getting TOP EI for her time spent on the Crab grounds. Laughable. Will there ever be a government that has the political guts to put real changes in there to stop abuse of the system? I wont hold my breath.

  • TJ
    May 24, 2012 - 10:59

    Wait and see how many people will go on Worker Comp now. Some people are just too lazy to do anything and are going to do whatever possible not to work! Others will who avail of EI for legit reasons may uses this as a little push to find new employment.

    • pd
      May 24, 2012 - 11:36

      I would guess the rules will not apply to fishermen ( and their wives).

    • Taxpayer
      May 25, 2012 - 05:12

      It's time these regulations were put in place. I am sick and tired of the abuse. I have family memebers who work only a few weeks a year and then they can sit on their decks all day and enjoy the sun and never have to get up early during the winter to shovel snow to get to work! Sometimes I think I am the fool for working all year with only a couple of weeks of annual leave. It's the working folk who are paying you to stay home on EI. Get out there and go to work! I have had to move to find work on a number of occasions, I never expected anyone to take care of me by paying me to stay home. And fishermen! Ha! Talk about abuse!!! It just amazes me as well that as soon as something happens within that sector that the attitude is " The government will have to do something for us" What about looking after yourselves? Newfoundlanders are supposed to be hardworking survivors!!!! Apparently not in the fishery!