Huffington Post: Premiers should discuss EI changes

07-24-12

In advance of the meeting of the Council of the Federation this week (the annual meeting of the 13 premiers from all provinces and territories), Canada Without Poverty blogged on the Huffington Post about the effects Employment Insurance changes will have on the Atlantic Provinces and why this should be a topic of discussion.  The meetings this summer are in Halifax, Nova Scotia – a province that is concerned it will be disproportionately affected by new EI rules that force individuals to accept lower paying work farther from home.

Here is an excerpt of the blog:

Some argue that seasonal industries in the Atlantic Provinces, employing almost 20,000 people, are expected to be disproportionately affected. Workers in the shipbuilding, forestry, agriculture and fishing industries rely on the security of EI during the months work is not available. This has been the natural flow of employment for years. News of the changes to EI left Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, host of the upcoming Council of the Federation meeting, concerned that people will be pushed away from these critical industries causing them to suffer…

The Mowat Centre released a report this month that states that youth, urban centres and immigrant workers will be the groups predominantly affected by EI changes. This counters the concerns of Atlantic Canada, but does not fully ease fears as the report also states that most frequent users of EI are based in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Under the new rules, frequent users will be forced to take lower wage jobs sooner than other EI claimants. Low wages and unemployment can quickly pave a path to poverty. Without federal supports, provincial resources will be limited in the effect it can have on a social safety net.

Currently, unemployment in Nova Scotia increased 0.4 percentage points over May 2012 to 9.6 per cent (the national average is 7.2 per cent). The decline in May was due to a loss of full time jobs. While the labour force has grown, employment has not kept up with demand. In recent years there has also been a decrease in Nova Scotians accessing EI, a problem that is bound to increase in areas offering seasonal jobs.”

Read the full blog on the Huffington Post Canada website.

The Dignity for All Campaign wrote two letters recently about changes to Employment Insurance (the first to the provincial/territorial finance ministers, and the second to the premiers) and expressed concern that the provinces will not be able to absorb the financial costs of these changes.  Unemployment and job loss can be pathways into poverty without a secure social system in place.  The upcoming changes (scheduled for 2013) could impact the number of people in poverty and those trying to make ends meet.