'My town is dying’ - Souris mayor

Steve Sharratt
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Souris Mayor David MacDonald speaks to the Atlantic Premier's Council meeting on EI changes held in Montague Monday.

MONTAGUE — The federal government is being blamed for the “murder” of a P.E.I. town by a mayor who says his community is dying because of changes to employment insurance benefits.

“My town is dying,’’ said Mayor David MacDonald. “And I blame the federal government for murdering my community.”

MacDonald was addressing the Premiers’ Council on EI changes being held Monday at the Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre here. The panel is gathering information on the impact employment insurance changes have had since being implemented almost two years ago.

“If I’m not mistaken, the employer and employee pay into this system,’’ said MacDonald.

“So if I buy insurance and have a claim to make I make it to the company . . . but in this system we have a great god called the federal government that decides whether you get any back, if at all, and they didn’t pay five cents.”

The retired school teacher received a round of applause when he told the panel, chaired by Ian MacPherson, the severe cuts to EI will lead to mental health and justice issues which are under the auspices of the province.

“I think this strange system (of EI eligibility) is the heart and soul of the matter. It’s hard enough in today’s society for parents to raise kids, doubly hard for a mother to raise the kids when dad has to go to Fort Mac.”

MacDonald said the federal government is penalizing Islanders and people who live in seasonal economies and the toll is being paid by the province.

Organizations: Council on EI, Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre

Geographic location: P.E.I., Fort Mac

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Recent comments

  • hurting albertan
    February 02, 2014 - 12:38

    I think the mayor is right but Souris has been dead for a long time and it will be sorry fellas people don't really rely on lobster and potatoes grow everywhere .pei needs to find natural resources oil gas propane anything if it wants jobs and it is there its everywhere . set up some drilling rigs instead of paying people to do nothing .it's there seismic doesn't lie they drilled a few holes and the rig couldn't get deep enough so they gave up

  • hurting albertan
    February 02, 2014 - 11:15

    I think our town was dead a long time ago .and to ever get it back we need natural resources people don't need lobster as we have learned !sorry and potatoes grow all over the world .they drilled one well on pei and gave up! the gas is under the island we just need to drill more holes and find it so every kid that grows up on pei doesn't have to leave our beautiful island to make any money at all ,last time I checked 600 a week will not pay for a house car and kids plus extra costs of living to me pei died long ago , I hope the can find a way to employ people with steady well paying jobs but I won't hold my breath

  • SlyFox
    January 21, 2014 - 14:23

    This is what government wants,people blaming one and other for their own mistakes and over spending.The E.I system always had a surplus till the government starting draining it for overspending.If 50% of claimants were cut off E.I do you believe the rates we pay into it would drop? I believe the government would only take more for it own spending. Next cut might be in transfer payments ,remember the Island is a welfare province that only survives on the federal dollars . If these transfer are cut ,government will not have enough money to keep health care,education,services and so on funded so the services will be cut to fit the budget.

  • Delta-9
    January 21, 2014 - 12:14

    Give us one of those federal marijuana facilities.

  • Two Cents
    January 21, 2014 - 12:12

    Like all insurance claims, the more frequently you use the claim the higher your deductible and costs should be. I can't burn down my house every time I want a new kitchen from my insurance company. High risk claimants should be contributing more during their working weeks. The goal here should not be perpetual seasonality but to create long-term prosperity in Prince Edward Island. We won't get there with farming, fishing, and tourism in the 21st century. It's time for a new economy in PEI.

    • My Two Cents!
      January 22, 2014 - 06:50

      High risk you say...I'm sure you like to eat potatoes and maybe even a little fish! How the hell does that get to your table? It takes a seasonal worker to get it there. So yeah let's make that seasonal worker have the label "high risk" and each year take away a little more money from the already tiny bit that they recieve! Yes I am sticking up for Islanders who are doing jobs that most of you lazy bastards don't want! No, I am not a seasonal worker, but I was years ago and appreciated the work at the time. My employer back then didn't rush out and cash in on immigrants either. You better think long and hard before posting your brain farts again. If everyone left the seaonal jobs where in the hell would you get your food supply....you're too lazy to grow it yourself!

  • Silly Mayor, lies are for kids
    January 21, 2014 - 11:47

    If the removal of a life-support system means your town is dying you have to wonder if it was already in a vegetative state. Let's create year-round employment, not bellyache about 45 fewer people across PEI having employment insurance.

  • some changes needed
    January 21, 2014 - 11:47

    There needs to be some changes made to the EI system. EI is not meant to be a way of life. Might I suggest that recipients of EI get back ONLY what they put in. Another suggestion might be to disallow claimants whose annual income is over a certain amount , $50k, $60K? If you can make that amount in, for example, a fishing season, perhaps you do not get EI for the winter months. I do not have all the answers but I do believe that something has to change. Working the minimum number of weeks and collecting EI is no longer acceptable. We have to stop looking to the government to pay for us, it is each person's responsibility to be a productive member of OUR community, seasonal or otherwise.

    • Mind blown
      January 22, 2014 - 10:55

      I don't understand most people..... There is a town trying to make a difference for its people and not just sit on the sidelines watching everything disappear. How about more people do that? Look at this province this same problem is everywhere and yet people still seem to point fingers saying this and that. For a place so small we have some big problems but when someone stands up the rest say sit down. You can't fix a provinces economic situation without a workforce. So first thing first you need to keep them seasonal workers here. 2 you need to create jobs for them people. Not take money off there table when them and there family needs it.

  • peiguy
    January 21, 2014 - 11:36

    It is stated a bit backwards there Mayor, EI is what has been keeping your town on the map... on life support so to speak. Now it just becomes evident that so many of our community leaders need to get real determined to create the kind of employment that has jobs that are not seasonal.

  • Times have changed ,our thinking has to also
    January 21, 2014 - 11:17

    Sorry Mayor MacDonald but it is not the Govt's job to be considered an annual source of income.EI is a temporary solution not a way of life year after year.The system was being abused and politicians are promoting the abuse or using it for political purposes ..well guess what ...it has come back to haunt them.Why do you discourage Islanders from seeking careers off island???...millions of Canadians have done it before....the island will always be here..keeping people ina constant circle of poverty and govt assistance has put this province in the position it is in.This is 2014 not the 1950's......we have to learn to adapt and be prepared for changes ...and travelling off island is one of them.

  • GETOUTANDWORK
    January 21, 2014 - 10:25

    It's time Islanders got off their rear ends and did something about their lot in life instead of whining about getting paid for doing nothing. The mayor tries to liken EI to insurance claims. Well I can tell you, if an insurance company keeps getting claims year after year from the same people, guess what, that person will get no more insurance and will be looking for someone else to insure him. This is not EI on the Island, it os a form of income supplament, and that is not what the program was intended. Ei was to sustain you until you got another job, not as a way of life. And Mayor MacDonald, you need to look at yourself and ask what have you done to create emplyment in Montague instead of blaming the Feds. How come new immigrants to this province have no trouble working year round? If they can't find a job, they go out and create one, and don't sit on their rears waiting for the pogey cheque to come in so they can go to the bingo or legion.

    • FromSmallTown
      January 21, 2014 - 16:05

      Dear "GETOUTANDWORK"... I think you should get your facts straight before running your mouth.. Mayor MacDonald is the mayor of SOURIS.. NOT MONTAGUE!!!

    • GETOUTANDWORK
      January 22, 2014 - 16:25

      C'est meme chose!

  • worker
    January 21, 2014 - 10:17

    Yes small towns all across Canada are dying because young people are moving out to large cities where employment exsists. What is the Provincial government doing about this? They hire people for a number of weeks so they can be laid off and get on the pogey.This is one of the causes. Business owners hire at minimum wage for the three months and expect workers to come back next year at the same wage. Mr.Mayor get use to this at it will not change until Government gets out of hiring just for EI or create meaningful jobs. Business also has a hand in creating meaningful employment. We have have to change as it is a competitive world out there and we have to have a vision to change the quandary that exists today.

  • SLIPPY
    January 21, 2014 - 10:13

    Let's be honest, it is not someone else's responsibility to keep a place going, when there are no jobs, people either get creative, or move on. It has happened since humans walked the earth. I guess it is just easier to blame others.

  • Paul
    January 21, 2014 - 10:09

    A town that survives on EI and is tilted into mortal decline by small tweaks to the EI system is not much of a town at all. Even if he believes it, is this the kind of chicken little message a mayor should be sending to his residents? This will only hasten the decline. Do your job Mr. Mayor: adapt and lead.

  • Islander
    January 21, 2014 - 10:08

    Mayor MacDonald is to be applauded for his stance on this very important issue. Where are the other Mayors. The on Summerside is always spouting off or better yet spinning his heels over matters that make no sense. Collectively all Mayors would identify these concerns and make sure the people on EI are fairly treated. Enough is enough. Good Luck to this Mayor for speaking out.

  • Islander
    January 21, 2014 - 09:41

    To Billy If you are paying into an Ins. and make a claim and get nothing. It is time to get a new Ins. Co.

  • Islander
    January 21, 2014 - 09:20

    To Billy If you are paying into an Ins. and make a claim and get nothing. It is time to get a new Ins. Co.

  • Dundas Sue
    January 21, 2014 - 09:18

    We need a new system. If I make a car insurance claim every year I would soon find my iunsurance was so expensive that I would not be able to afford to drive. After all the law says I have to have it and someone has to insure me, but at their price. If the greater good says seasonal jobs are necessary then the greater community has to pay those workers to be able to exist so they can work when there is work. We need a Guaranteed Annual Income and them make EI for the occasional transition and job loss. People need to live in dignity. Families and suffering. Mental health is suffering. Physical health is suffering. Community organizations are stretched to their limits. The Harper Govt will have us all move to Alberta and hten the government WILL change and hte environmentalsists will shut down the oil sands and then what? Guaranteed Annual Income. We cant afford not to.

  • Islander
    January 21, 2014 - 09:14

    "Way to go" you tell them Mayor MacDonald it is time someone spoke the truth and stood up to these bullies in Gov.

  • don
    January 21, 2014 - 09:07

    this government cares only for the city of ch'town . the rest of PEI is just there to pay ghiz and when will the voters of PEI wake up or are they really that DUMB they can't see they are being lied to and used by this government?

    • Pete
      January 21, 2014 - 11:24

      *sigh* Don, is it that your hatred of Robert Ghiz is so deep that it blinds you to the distinction between federal and provincial levels of government and leads you to make statements that make you look, how can I put this politely, less knowledgeable about politics than someone should be if they are going to express an opinion on political issues?

  • PEI Islander
    January 21, 2014 - 09:03

    Its sad that a community is dying because they rely heavily on what is supposed to be a transition program not a lifestyle.

  • PEI Islander
    January 21, 2014 - 09:02

    Its sad that a community is dying because they rely heavily on what is supposed to be a transition program not a lifestyle.

  • fed up
    January 21, 2014 - 09:01

    Your town was killed by what ever government allowed the big draggers to clean up all the fish . Then the crooks who destroyed the fish plants , the crooks who started a Chinese food plant in Souris and the the crooks that came up with all the other schemes. . Open your eyes the lack of pogey has not killed your town . P.E.I. in a whole is dying from a thousand cuts .

  • fed up
    January 21, 2014 - 08:46

    Your town was killed by what ever government allowed the big draggers to clean up all the fish . Then the crooks who destroyed the fish plants , the crooks who started a Chinese food plant in Souris and the the crooks that came up with all the other schemes. . Open your eyes the lack of pogey has not killed your town . P.E.I. in a whole is dying from a thousand cuts .

  • Billy
    January 21, 2014 - 08:38

    I believe if you pay into any insurance and you submit a claim it does not necessarily mean you automatically receive your claim. I could give examples but the mayor and panel must be familiar with that. To say the town is dying does he mean residents are dying or just moving away to better jobs. Canada has had many towns that died for both reasons and it was not blamed on EI.

  • It's Obvious
    January 21, 2014 - 08:22

    Harper hates PEI, and all of the maritimes for that matter, and he wants everyone to move to Alberta. Islanders will have to get creative here. Think local, buy local, support local. Get rid of those industrial potato farms and let thousands more people start small organic farms. That alone would bring in more tourists than we could probably handle. Import ONLY what can't be made here. Star our own currency. It's time to think outside of the box people. If we don't then harper will make sure we stay in the box and that box will either be in Alberta or in the ground.

    • it's not that obvious
      January 21, 2014 - 09:51

      you had me until, "star our own currency." Not only should you proofread your comments, but no, that is not an "obvious" or even workable solution. An economy that does not produce anything beside potatoes has no business with its own currency. Put down your portrait of Justin and think in terms of reality, not fantasy, because it's clear you have good ideas but don't know when to stop laying track. Best of luck to you.

    • It's Obvious
      January 21, 2014 - 11:52

      My aren't we a little touchy about the currency thing. My POINT is to think outside the box. We are perfectly capable people, given a chance.

    • Actual Logic
      January 23, 2014 - 00:44

      Tell me this, what should we base this "magical" currency of yours off of? No amount of thinking outside of the box could implement a currency that has no base. How idiotic would you look walking into the gas station trying to pay with something that has no monetary backing?