UPDATE: Controversial EI changes going ahead

Teresa Wright
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Human Resources Minister Diane Finley

Sweeping changes to employment insurance rules announced last spring will be implemented in January despite ardent concerns raised by the P.E.I. government the changes will hurt seasonal workers and employers.

The changes, which specifically target repeat EI users, have passed through the regulatory process and will come into effect Jan. 6, 2013.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley announced Thursday new definitions regarding what will be considered a “reasonable job search” for EI claimants and also what “suitable employment” they will be expected to accept.

In an interview with The Guardian, Finley said claimants have always been obliged to look for work. The new rules now clarify the duties they are expected to fulfill in doing so.

She did also add individual circumstances will be taken into consideration.

“There are guidelines laid out in the regulations, but it’s also going to vary by personal circumstances,” she said.

“If someone is very low-skilled in an area of high unemployment where there is very little in the way of jobs, then the effort there will be obviously limited.”

A reasonable job search will require EI claimants to perform such tasks as attending workshops or job fairs, contacting prospective employers and submitting job applications.

Several factors will determine what will be considered suitable employment for those on EI to accept, including: personal or physical barriers, hours of work available and working conditions.

Commuting time will also be considered. Finley has previously said claimants would not be required to accept jobs outside a one-hour commute, but a news release Thursday said this could be higher, taking into account previous commuting history and the community’s average commuting time.

The three new categories of workers created last spring to classify unemployed workers based on how often they collect EI benefits have also been more clearly defined.

Frequent users, who will have six weeks to find a job in their field before having to look outside their field, are now defined as those who have had three or more claims for regular or fishing benefits and have collected for more than 60 weeks in the past five years.

“They just steamrolled right along here… the minister just seems to be indifferent when it comes to the impact that the changes to EI will have not only here in P.E.I. but in (other) areas that will be affected across the country,” Innovation Minister Allen Roach

EI claimants will also be notified daily of new job postings through a new job alert system.

A claimant may choose to receive information on jobs similar to their previous employment or the job market in other regions.

Finley said this does not mean Islanders will be expected to move to other areas for work.

“We’re not requiring that people move at all,” Finley said.

“What we do know is that a lot of people are interested in opportunities beyond their own local area and we want to make sure that they are aware of what those opportunities are so that they can make their own choices.”

But P.E.I.’s Innovation Minister Allen Roach said he is upset at the lack of consultation with the provinces regarding these changes.

P.E.I. and other Atlantic provinces have raised serious concerns over the impacts these controversial new rules will have on seasonal industries and workers.

Roach pointed to the hundreds of submissions received by Islanders and numerous letters sent from him to Finley’s office expressing this concern.

“In all of that we never got one reply, not one answer from (Finley) until it comes out today in their media release,” Roach said.

“They just steamrolled right along here… the minister just seems to be indifferent when it comes to the impact that the changes to EI will have not only here in P.E.I. but in (other) areas that will be affected across the country.”

Roach says he is also worried at the stress the new rules will cause P.E.I.’s seasonal workers who are forced to use EI on a regular basis due to the seasonal nature of the Island’s three biggest industries.

“They are really having this forced down their throat and certainly the federal government didn’t have any consultation with them,” he said.

He says he will continue to urge the federal government to reconsider their EI reforms.




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Recent comments

  • jimmy buffet
    December 16, 2012 - 10:32

    To get the workers I need I pay higher wages and bonus money.That is how I attract the people I want involved in my operation.Harper's EI changes will force people to work for less,doesn't sound like a happy work place to me.Good luck with productivity,quality control,hangovers,tardiness,bickering etc.etc.etc.Learn to use a carrot not a whip.By the way the Government seems slow to announce help with training.They need trades people so they let in immigrants,why not train Canadians or is it because Canadians won't work for minimum wage in the oil patch?Isn't this our future courtesy of big oil and Harper.

    December 16, 2012 - 09:55

    I agree with NDP Human Resource critic Chris Charlton.EI is not a Tory slush fund and tinkering with accessability is just going to create needless hardship and anguish for people who depend on it.NO ONE is getting rich off EI, if they did they wouldn't need it year after year.I take that back,the Tories stand to get rich...more Canada Action Plan signs and advertising .Merry Christmas to the working poor.

  • pspplaya
    December 14, 2012 - 21:41

    More job cuts more job cuts,forcing 30 k people to look for jobs not there so what gives.What i laugh the hardest about is all these people who say its great i work year round.Now the goverment is giving the business the power to cut your wages back to 10/hour because there are so many looking and some that can do your damn jobs for less money, Now even funnier is the less money people are making the less they are buying so there are more jobs gone because noone is buying from the businesses anymore.so who is really safe in all this change.

  • About time the pei ei habit is ended
    December 14, 2012 - 17:31

    If immigrants have to be imported because islanders won't take the jobs then I say about time the rules were changed.

  • Ghoulman
    December 14, 2012 - 12:31

    There is only one question to ask that is relevant to this entire debate and one that can be applied to most of the actions of the Harper Government. WHY??? Why change EI? Is there a problem? Hmm, no. None so important that major changes, that would bring hardship to millions, is needed. Is Canada so poor that austerity is the only way to save the economy? Hmm, no. Canada fairs well thanks to solid banks. If there's one question the Conservatives have never answered regarding their sweeping and nation changing policies is WHY these things are necessary. And just mumbling bull about 'revenue' doesn't cut it. Nor is attacking the poor as 'welfare queens'. Nor any of the cynical and trash excuses I've heard so far.

  • moving
    December 14, 2012 - 10:42

    moe it says fishing claims.try being a fisherman then get back to us .merry christmas from harper.

    • Moe
      December 14, 2012 - 19:20

      If changes are made ( which i do not agree with) it should be for all. `Fisher Claims` should not be exempt.

  • anthony
    December 14, 2012 - 10:05

    Has any one looking at the harper government spending ei money on the new f-35 jets . i donot thank so news papers donot investigaet any more they tell you what they are told

  • patricia edgar
    December 14, 2012 - 10:02

    i dont think the government has the right to impose this on canadians we work and are entitled to this money the canadian government thinks that they can railroad canadians i think it is high time the we the canadians should make a stand.

    • bob
      February 06, 2013 - 20:07

      "Entitled"? Thats the problem. People think they only need to work 4 months out of the year, paying 860 dollars to the fund while the rest of the year round workers pay for your lazy asses to sit around and do nothing for 8 months. If you work in a "seasonal" job, you should make enough money to get you through the down time or find more work in the other seasons. To everyone who has been abusing this system I say Looks good on ya. To those who really deserve the benefits and don't get them, blame the ones who have been cheating the government.

  • Paul
    December 14, 2012 - 09:23

    Seasonal workers were mentioned many times in this report so why not allow the person's to volunteer in their community. We all hear that events/programs are cancelled because of a lack of local support, so these people can have their time accounted for and then go back to their jobs. If managed properly this is a huge resource that could be a win-win for most. I realize this will not work for everyone, but as we go forward, it may be a starting point.

  • mr.nobody
    December 14, 2012 - 08:29

    The fact that there are no comments here expressing rage at this current government and their dictatorial methods, who seem intent destroying the E.I program, yet a gay couple gets told to stop sucking face in public, and there are nearly a hundred comments. Focus on the real problems.

  • patty
    December 14, 2012 - 07:34

    well mr roach thinks the pc goverment is just pushing this down our throats with no consultation doesnt this sound like the ghiz goverment with plan b its time islanders dont use ei as a way of life which has been done for years

  • Student
    December 14, 2012 - 07:16

    I went to college for a two year program and now I am in my last year of university. How come I can never draw unemployment? I work all summer and pay into it but I still need to take out student loans during school. I am furthering my education only to be burdened by debt. Meanwhile someone who would rather watch tv all winter gets money from the government. This whole system is broken, I'm glad to see someone's trying to fix it.

  • statler
    December 14, 2012 - 06:49


    • waldorf
      December 14, 2012 - 09:16

      Well said STATLER..... he said he wont force us to move be he and his gang are making it damm hard to live in atlantic canada

  • Change Takes Courage
    December 14, 2012 - 05:53

    If there is work people have to work, that is the only change, EI was never designed to allow people to qualify and then not look for work again until they drew their last benefit check. Good for the government to finally deal with this abuse of the program. Everyone pays when a program is abused and abuse of this program has become a way of life for many, many people.

    • Ghoulman
      December 14, 2012 - 12:24

      @Change Takes Courage - This program is abused and is a way of life for many? O'Rly? Name them please. Name any case of fraud you'd like to mention because there has been very few cases and since the Conservative crack-down of EI in the Maritimes such cases are very, very, few. So, is what your saying just the sort of political myth ill informed and cynical Conservatives typically throw into the ring or are you just speaking out yer arse... which is far more common?

    • revXP
      December 14, 2012 - 21:13

      What is a person like me for instense suppose to do were I work on a farm 10 month's out if the year to do go to work at tim hortons or pump gas for 10 bucks an hour and try and keep my family your comment is a little retarded good for the gov't you say easy for you to say!!

    • bob
      February 06, 2013 - 20:17

      @GHOULMAN Name them? It would be a long list! Im from the East coast and I moved West because there was no work at home. I didn't use that excuse to live at home and only work 4 months and complain of no jobs. I know of lots of people in the oil industry who treat this routine as a way of life and don't want to work any more than "Enough to get my stamps for the Year". They brag about summers off drinking and partying with no ambition of any other work. So if you think you should pay your measly 900 dollars a year into EI and have the rest of the year round workers pay for your lazy azz, you got another think coming!

    • Marjorie Rapson
      February 22, 2013 - 13:37

      Maybe Mr. Harper should appoint fewer Senators and not pay them so well. That would help fill the coffers.

  • pot and kettle
    December 14, 2012 - 05:09

    Well Mr Roach if that is not the pot calling the kettle black did you and your gov(laughable) steam roll Islanders for the last 6 years by doing what benefited you and you cronies with out asking the people who placed you in power, their opinion often did not matter and when we asked we were denied any input or answers.

  • concernedislander
    December 14, 2012 - 00:06

    There may be only one explanation for all off this corrupt changing in the EI system, its looking like the Feds dipped into the EI fund and now they are taking drastic measures too keep it from going broke in turn leaving them too explain where the funds went, EI has always looked after itself infact many times government tried too borrow from its surplus off money and were denied,Harper has the maritimes on ah collission course and in turn the economy will fail there are so many familys with only one spouse working and the other in need off work and have no income at present and no jobs ,so really Harper fix one problem before you cause more and be carefull using the word common-sense if your gonna say practice it your way off course

  • Turd Ferguson
    December 13, 2012 - 21:49

    A government that steamrolls right along........hmmmm, weird. What's that saying....something about a pot and a kettle?

  • johnthames
    December 13, 2012 - 21:39

    There will be zero seats for the CONS next election here. You can bet on it.

  • cathy farrell
    December 13, 2012 - 21:20

    Government should not have anything to do with employment Insurance benifits!!!....This money is our money!!... Not the Government's money....What do you think?

      December 14, 2012 - 10:28

      Well, Cathy, I completely disagree with your view. The money isn't "yours" or "ours". It is money that all working Canadians provide as part of payroll deductions that not all Canadians make use of. That is hardly "our" money. Plus, a lot of it is the Government's money. That is a moot point considering it is just additional tax money taken from working Canadians. These tax dollars could be spent on other things. Furthermore, where would the money come from if the Government were to stay out of it? People would then be responsible for saving for themselves. This would be impossible as folks would have to make enough money in 12 weeks to last the whole year. I certainly wouldn't be providing any of my hard earned money were it not for the Government. I don't disagree with the idea of Employment Insurance. I think that there are definitely times when people legitimately need it. But it is INSURANCE. If you crashed your car every year, do you think your insurance company would keep shelling out money without raising premiums?

  • About time
    December 13, 2012 - 21:18

    I work at Tims Hortons and wait on fisherman everyday-why is it they can sit around the coffee shops for hours on end and I get paid minimum wage (which is less than what top pogey is every 2 weeks)...I think its great that they may actually send some of these men and women out to work...EI has become something people depend on way to much around here.

  • roach describes indifferent ministers for us
    December 13, 2012 - 21:05

    Poor little Mister Roaches. They steamrolled you?? Poor little guy. After watching the Ghiz clown show I am sure we already know what indifference looks like. Get a shot of testosterone and knock off the whimpering Roaches.

  • what a joke
    December 13, 2012 - 20:32

    “They just steamrolled right along here… the minister just seems to be indifferent when it comes to the impact that the changes to EI will have not only here in P.E.I. but in (other) areas that will be affected across the country.” What a joke! What has this joke of a government ever sought islanders opinions on? Billy must have a brother running things in Ottawa.... This is my brother Billy and my other brother Billy...

      December 14, 2012 - 10:33

      What A Joke, They sought Islanders opinions when there was an election. It's called democracy.

  • Moe
    December 13, 2012 - 19:41

    What really bothers me is that fishermen are exempt from these changes.........and the media does not talk about it.

    • What bothers me
      December 16, 2012 - 09:28

      Moe if you had read the article you would know these changes include people claiming fishing benefits.What really bothers me is people who voted Conservative and caused the train wreck that is now our country and are stupid enough to vote for them again.For God's sake get informed!

  • Robot Gizz
    December 13, 2012 - 18:24

    Join us now as Canada adopts the same rules and policies as our major investor-dept holder CHINA!!! Harper is chewing at the bit to have the same ultra power and control over his subjects.Don't forget Stevie boy ,you rule by the sword-you die by the sword.The list is growing by the minute of those who would enjoy the lowering of the blade and ending your short run at wrecking what was a fine country.I hope you stole away enough to retire in another place in the world because your not welcome here anymore.GET- OUT

  • Jacinta
    December 13, 2012 - 18:20

    A government of present day that is so out of touch with reality is just plain sad. Walk a mile in peoples shoes before you make such unforgiving changes. Talk about stress on families and suicide what a recipe for disaster. GAIL SHEA YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF!

  • Sounds reasonable
    December 13, 2012 - 18:10

    This new approach sounds very reasonable to me. Why all the fuss? EI is not supposed to be a paid vacation to be relied upon year after year. In my opinion, these changes are long overdue.

  • sick of jr s place
    December 13, 2012 - 17:46

    maybe gail shea should be the one looking for work ...seeing since she has done nothing but sell the island people out ...just for another pension....what a joke...

  • A staples
    December 13, 2012 - 17:10

    The Tories are cutting down the east, they are forcing our youth out of the east. Human Resources Minister Diane Finley The xmas grinch, where are all the jobs ? Harper is forcing us to move this is terrible there gone to far with change for the sake of change with no plan just cut cut cut , Stephen Harper HATES THE EAST , Harper has contempt for atlantic canada to bad DANNY WILLIAMS was not still in politics he would debate these changes more then the 4 priemers we have now here in atlantic canada

  • Sayitlikeitis
    December 13, 2012 - 16:11

    “What we do know is that a lot of people are interested in opportunities beyond their own local area .... What a pile of Mule Manure !!!! For years and years now most EI Claimants {especially the Repetitive Claimants} on P.E.I wouldn't drive 5 miles for a new job if they could draw EI or UI. And I have heard all the excuses like " By the time I pay a babysitter"..."After I put gas in the car".... "The new job expects me to work some evenings and weekends".....etc,etc. Let's just call a spade a spade. EI is just being used as glorified welfare that makes those who draw it feel entitled because they paid into. Well folks you pay into welfare also...it's called taxes. So why don't we just bundle the two programs together and call it Unemployment Welfare or Welfare for the Unemployed. It might save a lot of $$$$ across Canada as duplicate sevices would be eliminated.I know one is a provincial program and one is federal but it would stop each program from trying to pass off claimants to each other's program and with all the money saved by joining the two programs, Ghiz and Harper could really go to town passing out Xmas gifts to their cronies.

  • Ulfric
    December 13, 2012 - 14:57

    Who is going to enforce these rules? Rehiring all the case workers laid off would be 'suitable' considering the amount of people on EI and help people do 'reasonable job searches'. If I owned a business and knew the work load is going to be increased, I would be hiring and not cutting jobs. Common sense goes a long way. Nothing will change on PEI except for random checks and longer waits than the QEII