20 April 2012

Tightening up EI access #nlpoli #cdnpoli

People drawing unemployment insurance in the Atlantic provinces might be in for a new way of life in the near future, if changes to the Employment Insurance system turn out as described by the National Post on Wednesday:

What we will be doing is making people aware there’s hiring going on and reminding them that they have an obligation to apply for available work and to take it if they’re going to qualify for EI,” Mr. Kenney told the National Post editorial board on Wednesday. …

The reforms would require unemployed Canadians to accept local jobs that are currently being filled by temporary foreign workers.

The story includes an example of Nova Scotia Christmas tree farmers who have to bring in Mexican workers to harvest trees in the fall.  Unemployment in Nova Scotia is running at 8.3% according to Statistics Canada.  Newfoundland and Labrador’s unemployment rate is 13%, the highest in the country.

Changes to Employment Insurance could have a significant impact on seasonal workers in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Historically, they and the companies they work for have been heavily dependent on federal subsidies.  The fishing industry, already under pressure to reform, would face profound changes under the changes.