Federal minister takes issue with criticism of EI in P.E.I.

Teresa Wright
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Jason Kenney in Charlottetown. FILE PHOTO

Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney is taking issue with criticisms being aimed at employment insurance reforms by the Prince Edward Island government and others in P.E.I.

Kenney says rising rates of out-migration from Prince Edward Island is not the result of the changes made in 2013 to EI rules.

“Recent claims by the provincial government that these changes are responsible for people leaving Prince Edward Island are completely false,” Kenney said in a statement Tuesday.

In 2012-13, P.E.I. experienced a net loss of close to 1,100 Islanders to inter-provincial migration, according to data from Statistics Canada.

This is the largest loss of P.E.I. residents to other provinces in more than 30 years.

In November, P.E.I.’s Innovation Minister Allen Roach blamed this increase on the changes to EI eligibility. He believes they have led to an increasing number of Islanders heading to Alberta for work.

On Monday, a number of P.E.I. business and community leaders shared their concerns over the EI changes with a panel struck by the four Atlantic premiers. This panel is examining the effects of the Harper government’s EI reforms in Atlantic Canada.

Tourism and business representatives shared their worries about out-migration of workers, also attributing this to the changes in EI rules.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Kenney’s office contacted The Guardian in response to two stories it published quoting those who spoke at Monday’s public meeting.

She said she wanted to correct misinformation being spread about the EI changes, especially regarding an increase in the number of Islanders disqualified for EI benefits in 2013.

“Since we introduced our changes, there was an increase in disqualifications but that same data proves it can be linked to claimants applying for EI while being outside of the country,” said Kenney’s spokeswoman Alexandra Fortier.

In P.E.I. close to 80 per cent of those kicked off EI in 2013 were collecting benefits while in another country. This may have included Islanders who took a trip or vacation down south.

This has been a longstanding rule and was not one of the new measures introduced by the Harper government, she added.

“Obviously you need to be in Canada, looking for work while you are on EI.”

Kenney is on a tour of the Middle East this week, but Fortier emailed a statement from the minister to The Guardian Tuesday.

In it, he says federal data shows more than 99 per cent of EI claimants were not refused benefits based on the recent changes.

Fortier said Kenney wanted to clarify this for Islanders, especially after so many negative statements have been made about the EI changes, both by the provincial government and others.

One particularly inflammatory statement made during the public meetings in P.E.I. Monday came from the mayor of Souris, who blamed the feds for the ‘murder’ of his small rural town.

Premier Robert Ghiz has also been vocal in his criticism of the EI reforms, often turning to national news outlets to raise alarm over the effects they will have on seasonal economies.

“If the seasonal workers pick up and leave and all move out west, who’s going to be around to work on our farms, to work in our fish plants, to work in our tourism industry? It will be detrimental to our economy and therefore the Canadian economy,” Ghiz told The Guardian in November.

“Not one single person in P.E.I. has been, or will be, required to search for work off-Island to be eligible for EI,” Kenney countered Tuesday.

“Employment Insurance continues to be there for Canadians who have lost their job through no fault of their own. Those who have worked the requisite weeks but cannot find suitable work in their local area will continue to qualify for employment insurance.”



Organizations: The Guardian, Statistics Canada

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Canada, Alberta Middle East

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Recent comments

  • sickofjr
    January 22, 2014 - 17:38

    Its the abuse of sales based EI claims by the self entitled lobster captains that caused this whole cut back but the funny thing is that fishermen are not affected by the changes at all . They manipulate their two maxed out EI claims to obtain the highest payout for decades . 42 weeks of $514.00 weekly checks while only paying $840.00 in premiems .

  • Garth Staples
    January 22, 2014 - 15:48

    Silly WayneDrips running from the truth via mistruths.

  • fred
    January 22, 2014 - 15:33

    It;s not that people don;t want to work and draw e.i. / People just don;t feel like working for the big $ 10.00 an hour wage that;s offered by most employers. Its a disgrace . The cost of living went up aprox. 3000 % in the last 30 years/ oil, gas, food etc. where wages barely went up 25%. If gov would get their heads out of the sand and raise minimum wage up to 15 or 16 dollars an hour; maybe there would be more people not have to leave this over governed / over taxed /cancerous rock.

  • WayneDrops
    January 22, 2014 - 14:14

    Garth Staples - stop spouting off! You were a Ghiz supporter until he cut you off from the taxpayer teat! You are no more intelligent and about as entitled as that rob maceachern!

    • Garth Staples
      January 22, 2014 - 17:21

      Running from the truth eh?

  • Dave
    January 22, 2014 - 10:33

    I left PEI when I was 30. My oldest is 26, a journeyman powerlineman and makes $53/hr and OT is double time. My baby girl is 18, graduated high school last year and wants to work with special needs.......she makes $21/hr working with autistic men and her workplace is covering costs on all courses she takes in college. Its not the EI folks, this place really is that easy.The horror stories about the cost of living, are stories. Downtown Calagary s expensive, but only the rich live there. The rest of us syre aren't struggling.

    • Garth Staples
      January 22, 2014 - 12:56

      Right on. Islanders have the notion they should be kept people!

    • Dave
      January 22, 2014 - 13:37

      I'm sorry. I should add, I don't live in Fort Mac. Once you are here, there are tons of opportunities other than Fort Mac. I live just north of Edmonton and I love it here.

    • Dave
      January 22, 2014 - 14:36

      I have been reading articles lately from PEI dealing with the EI issue and the articles and the comments as well. Over and over, people are pointing a finger at Harper and calling him the bad guy. A lot of Islanders are really out of touch on this issue. This is not Harper, this is the will of the country. This is a Federal program, and the overwhelming majority of the country support these changes. Asking about a move to go back to the old system..........you have a better chance of being struck by lightening. Sorry, but some Islanders are really out to lunch.

  • Angus
    January 22, 2014 - 09:39

    The days of career pogey and welfare are done folks, so get over yourselves. Sheridan can try to blame the feds for the mistakes his government makes, but people are too smart to buy into that.

  • Hey People
    January 22, 2014 - 09:06

    Hey people ; shake your heads and read this article . I read it several times & cannot see any lies in it . What he say's is so true and we all know it . Pull your head out of the sand & face facts . Also Robert , take a look at all the increases your goverment has put through & admit that these are the driving factors . The people can't afford to live in PEI any more and that's the truth .

    • Agree
      January 22, 2014 - 10:22

      I agree with people can't afford to live here but my wife and have worked full time for years so we got through all the hikes in taxes and fees and then when layoffs started happening and waiting almost 2 months for ei that's when I said enough is enough so I blame both ghiz and Harper for all the workers leaving pei because with both of these goofs hitting pei... islanders don't have a chance Unles they take a chance and go out west .. I'm sure glad I did instead of depending on the government in between jobs. The ei system needs an indepent firm looking after funds not government because they already robbed it dry both party's !!!!! CROOKS!!!!

  • Billy
    January 22, 2014 - 09:05

    When you get a politician speaking the truth, it really hurts doesn't it.

    January 22, 2014 - 08:57

    Although I don't usually agree with the Government,this time I must. The PEI Government blames the feds for something they created themselves, Highest taxes in Canada, Lowest deductions in Canada, and a separate Tax calculation to ensure the pEI Government can squeeze every penny that they can from you, add to that the fact that they have been in so many bad business deals with their buddies that the Island will take many years to recover from this YOUNG inexperienced premier and his faithful sicdkick Wes the Rat. Add on tothat,the PEI businesses appear to not be able to survive unless they are in the taxpayers pockets continually. They are crying to be able to bring in cheap labour in order to avoid paying decent livable wages to Islanders, and then have the arrogance to blame the federal Government for people moving away to make a decent living. Add to that the number of people abusing EI in this province that cry foul when they get caught and you have a perfect blend of disasters to destroy this province. Stop blaming others for your shortcomings and turn this once wonderful Island around and make it a year round place to live and work.

  • Garth Staples
    January 22, 2014 - 08:57

    Aha! The truth is out and it doesn't wear well on Premier Ghiz ,Minister Roach, Liberal operatives, Unions and certain Business sector leaders . They--all of them- have not made the investments nor changed the conditions nor do they have the know how to create jobs on PEI. Besides they berate Islanders without jobs, on EI or Welfare for seeking full time employment at much higher wages so they can grow and take care of their families. What would happen if these workers suddenly declared AB as their residence for income tax purposes?

  • Wayne
    January 22, 2014 - 08:42

    Jason Kennedy is just one of Harpers boys trying to look good in hopes of getting a promotion from Hartper--SICKENING.

    • Garth Staples
      January 22, 2014 - 12:59

      Sickening comment.

  • rural resident
    January 22, 2014 - 08:30

    Why, I'd like to know is it necessary for our Federal Employment Minister to tour the Middle East?? How about using the tax payers dollars that paid for that trip to pay for oil for the families that can no longer afford to keep to their homes heated! As far as Islanders are not leaving the province for work out west because of the new changes... just ask those that have left, or their families that are left behind... also, claimants will not be denied if no work in local area?? whatever, if your rural, your "local area" has been increased up to 2 hrs away!

      January 22, 2014 - 12:28

      The Islanders who can't afford to pay for oil are the ones on EI . The reason people go out west to work is so that they can provide for their families and be able to buy oil. Moral of the story: if you want to provide for your family, go to work. If you want to stay home and freeze, stay on EI. The choice is yours.

    • Garth Staples
      January 22, 2014 - 13:00

      Minister Kenney is also Multiculturalism Minister.

  • Jim
    January 22, 2014 - 08:13

    No one mentions the HST as a job killer. Both the federal and provincial governments wanted it introduced. There has been a drop in demand for many products and services on the Island so people have to go elsewhere to get work.

  • Jim
    January 22, 2014 - 08:10

    No one mentions the HST as a job killer. Both the federal and provincial governments wanted it introduced. There has been a drop in demand for many products and services on the Island so people have to go elsewhere to get work.

  • Bs
    January 22, 2014 - 07:52

    This is bs .. I am one of the out migration workers because of ei ... Who can afford to be laid off and then wait almost 2 months for insurance ..and we ( my wife and I ) are not frequent users of ei.. We had NO choice but to make a move or we would starve . So don't sit there and say its not the reason for workers leaving .. It's the reason I left ..if I could have stayed on pei I would have BUT I have to take care of my family. So don't tell me it's not affecting people that don't abuse the system because it affected my family.. So take your destiny in your own hands and do what I did islanders MOVE.. Don't depend on government to look after you in hard times . 2 months is what we needed for help.. But they gave us NO choice to make a move.

      January 22, 2014 - 12:37

      They did you a favour. You should thank them. Don't you feel better now that you put your big boy pants on and provided for your family? I am glad you took the initative and got off EI. Good for you.

    • Garth Staples
      January 22, 2014 - 13:03

      Stay on PEI and not work. How funny s that?

  • Jan Roach
    January 22, 2014 - 07:50

    I guess the Feds think that if they keep saying it it will either (a) become the truth or (b) others will believe it. I have some land in Florida..........

      January 22, 2014 - 12:44

      Does your husband happen to be Al Roach?

    • Garth Staples
      January 22, 2014 - 13:09

      Because I accepted a move to PEI, worked hard, created jobs, saved and invested I am in Florida. Something wrong with that?

  • jrsplace
    January 22, 2014 - 07:36

    Everyone on PEI is lazy...anyone who is in a union is lazy. That goes for the teachers, nurses and civil servants. Also the people in the private sector are lazy as they get big tax breaks from Ghiz. I am sick of it all. More money should go towards people who are on welfare!

      January 22, 2014 - 12:51

      Are you saying that the ones on welfare are not lazy and in fact are the movers and shakers and therefore deserve more of my tax dollars? Is this what you are saying?

  • voter
    January 22, 2014 - 06:44

    who are you going to believe ??????? the liars from the province or the liars from ottawa?

  • worker
    January 22, 2014 - 06:08

    Well said Mr.Kenney. Premier Ghiz is grandstanding on this issue. It is called taking the heat of his problems. He has lined up a number of supporters to address the panel with mis-information. Are the fisher people the ones in the suuny south not being able to get thier EI.What a shame. Mr.Ghiz creat some jobs with a decent wage and the good people of PEI wouldn't need EI.

  • Charlottetown's Been Shrugging Souris Forever
    January 22, 2014 - 05:14

    The "Capital" Charlottetown has been shrugging Souris and Tignish. Vote Liberal you island sheep Now there is only government spending in PEI, its a broken society without any ethics, morals or shame. Al Roach and Sheridan blaming someone?? A farce.

  • don
    January 22, 2014 - 02:51

    kenny you need a shovel. move to PEI and see about living here for 2 years and not having your big pay or perks from the tax payers. and live here on ei etc. put up or leave the government. to me both the PC'S and lib cares less for CANADIANS then you would a worm. but i wonder if maybe the whole idea is to hurt islanders for one of 2 reasons 1 they voted liberal, 2 to help western canada get cheap labor?

    • Agree
      January 22, 2014 - 08:07

      Bingo. You hit the nail on the head. Harper is in tight with big oil in Alberta. Plus libreral pei is being choked out with federal job loses.. It's really not hard to see what's happening here. And what is ghiz doing about it .. nothing!!!!!! Ghiz stand up for who your paid to represent and start making waves in the media about this issue or are you afraid of Harper .. Seems like it to me with your inactions

    • Garth Staples
      January 22, 2014 - 09:01

      Aha! The truth is out and it doesn't wear well on Premier Ghiz ,Minister Roach, Liberal operatives, Unions and certain Business sector leaders . They--all of them- have not made the investments nor changed the conditions nor do they have the know how to create jobs on PEI. Besides they berate Islanders without jobs, on EI or Welfare for seeking full time employment at much higher wages so they can grow and take care of their families. What would happen if these workers suddenly declared AB as their residence for income tax purposes?

    January 22, 2014 - 02:35

    I invite Mr Kenny to do sonething about the EI manipulation in fishing industry . .Where cash sales of lobster and scallops after achieving enough sales for EI claims are used to stay under the clawback number along with manipulation of expenses . Fishing EI manipulation is blatantly used to increase net worth and fishermen choose to draw summer EI claims when they could be fishing other species .

    • SlyFox
      January 22, 2014 - 07:29

      JRS do a bit of research and you will see why fisherpeople are allowed to claim E.I. It is because of government involvement in the industry and mismanagement of it. As a appeasement for the governments blunders they let fishers now claim E.I. to recoup their lost income in a ailing industry.

  • Bill Bates
    January 21, 2014 - 23:22

    Every time Kenney speaks on this issue his nose gets longer

  • 2356
    January 21, 2014 - 23:05


    • we need Cival unrest on PEI
      January 22, 2014 - 18:22

      @2356,Thank you for bringing this to light,the feds should be lobbied to put that money where it belongs towards the people and create meaningful longterm jobs and give some to EI claimants who are struggling, also place some money towards education, it's our money and put it back where you took it from Harper.