Is federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea waving the white flag on her government’s ill-conceived changes to Employment Insurance?
Her Feb. 20 surprise announcement in P.E.I. that the calculation criteria for workers in “more remote” parts of P.E.I. appears to be a tacit acknowledgement that the changes are negatively affecting communities.
And if this isn’t just a cynical ploy to buy votes by the fisheries minister — as many political observers have already noted — then we look forward to this change being rolled out into every community across the country.
While CUPE supports more assistance for unemployed — especially those who are unemployed in areas of high unemployment, seasonal workers and those who are long-term unemployed in areas with no jobs — it seems patently unfair to announce changes for rural P.E.I. only.
While we agree that administrative zones have their place in the EI system, all of P.E.I. is a rural region and should remain one zone.
These arbitrary boundaries that have been established make no sense.
We have very small communities that are considered urban but the city of Summerside (which just happens to be Minister Shea’s riding) is considered rural.
Shea’s “changes” mean increased access to EI in the minister’s own riding, at the expense of P.E.I. residents outside her riding in places like Charlottetown.
We would also remind voters that back in April 2012, Gail Shea and all of her cabinet colleagues supported Bill C38 — the notorious Omnibus Budget — that contained these egregious changes in the first place.
The federal government needs to scrap their changes to the EI system and enact the more reasonable recommendations brought forward by labour in our submission to the EI panel.
president, CUPE Prince Edward Island
president, CUPE New Brunswick
president, CUPE Nova Scotia
president, CUPE Newfoundland Labrador