A group fighting to reverse recent changes to employment insurance gave a valentine to National Revenue Minister and P.E.I. MP Gail Shea Thursday, asking her to ‘have a heart.’
Representatives from the P.E.I. Coalition for Fair EI went to Shea’s office in Charlottetown Thursday to present an oversized Valentine’s Day card, signed by over a hundred Islanders.
The card asks Shea and the Harper government in Ottawa to scrap its recent EI reforms, which they say unfairly target seasonal workers.
“We felt that a heart to represent Valentine’s Day signed by Islanders would be a significant symbol,” said coalition spokeswoman Lori MacKay, who is also the P.E.I. president of the Canadian Union for Public Employees (CUPE).
MacKay and others in the group said they do not believe Shea is representing the interests of Islanders in allowing these changes to go forward unchallenged.
“She should be really focusing on the severe impact this is having on Islanders and I don’t feel that she is.”
MacKay and others in the group were especially critical of Shea for leaving just before being asked to vote on an Opposition motion in the House of Commons last week calling on government to reverse its EI reforms.
Shea’s press secretary told The Guardian she had to leave ‘for personal reasons’ but she has not been made available for an interview regarding this issue since.
MacKay said she was stunned to find Shea refused to show the public and Islanders exactly where she stands on the issue.
“It’s disappointing for sure and I hope that there will be some explanation other than she had somewhere to go come about soon,” MacKay said.
The P.E.I. Coalition for Fair EI wants Shea to take a public stand against the changes to EI, which specifically target frequent users and put a greater emphasis on claimants looking for and accepting available work.
Many, including Premier Robert Ghiz, have said these changes will hurt jurisdictions like P.E.I. whose economies rely heavily on seasonal workers and industries.
“The opposition that’s coming forward from citizens about these changes, (Shea) needs to bring forward to Prime Minister Harper,” MacKay said.
“She, out of any Islander in this province, has the most power to make some changes here.”
Shea was not in the office Thursday to accept the Valentine, but her representative, Philip Brown, accepted it.