Federal budget hurts youth in eastern Canada: panel

Mitch MacDonald
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MP Sean Casey's town hall Monday night focused on changes to EI program and young workers moving west

An obsession with balancing the federal budget has disproportionally hurt youth in Atlantic Canada was a common theme expressed during a panel discussion in Charlottetown Monday night.

Almost 40 people took part in a panel discussion hosted by Charlottetown Liberal MP Sean Casey at The Guild.

Much of the talk focused on changes to the Employment Insurance program and young workers on P.E.I. seemingly being forced to move West for work.

Casey said while the government needs to focus on economic growth, there has been too much attention paid to resource-rich provinces in what he called a “stay-the-course austerity budget”

As a result, P.E.I. has been hit hard through reductions in services, transfer payments that favour the western provinces and E.I. premiums being frozen at artificially high levels, he said.

“I think if there was a more patient, more passionate, more region-sensitive approach to balancing the budget we would be in better shape than where we are now,” said Casey.

Other panelists for the evening included Bras d’Or-Cape Breton Liberal MP Roger Cuzner, P.E.I. Business Women’s Association executive director Hannah Bell, and freelance researcher Katharine MacDonald.

“Young people need long-term investment, long-term encouragement and long-term thinking to really ensure success and engagement.” Katharine MacDonald, researcher

MacDonald recently worked with community foundation of P.E.I. on the report Vital Signs: Taking the Pulse of Island Youth.

She said common concerns she found while interviewing young Islanders for the report centered on employment, student debt and other financial issues.

“It came up over and over again, it is a constant concern,” said MacDonald. “Young people need long-term investment, long-term encouragement and long-term thinking to really ensure success and engagement.”

MacDonald said initiatives in recent years have often been incentives that are immediate, short-term and have been seen as “tokens” by many young Islanders.

“That’s a worry for a lot of young people because they don’t know where they’re going to be in four years, “ she said.

“There is a need young people have expressed to us to have less reactionary policies and more thoughtful, considerate, long-term policies that don’t just address the needs of today but also of tomorrow.”

Other topics discussed during the panel included a need for more student loan assistance, mental health program funding as well as programs for veterans.

Organizations: Employment Insurance, Vital Signs, Pulse of Island Youth.She

Geographic location: P.E.I. Business Women, Eastern Canada, Atlantic Canada Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Al
    February 18, 2014 - 13:55

    Us liberals don't want jobs we want ei

  • Meeting was awaste of time
    February 18, 2014 - 13:20

    Total,Total waste of time and energy...his own wife's GOVT is wasting money left and right...loading us down with HST, and now 2% on our house taxes.................his party is in 3rd place..they can promise the world..and analyze it till the cow "s come home..BUT young islanders have to get educated or seek their fortunes witha trade off island ..at for a while anyway .............all this group did was tell us what we already know........that constant EI and employment cycles keep these people in poverty.

  • Garth Staples
    February 18, 2014 - 11:51

    Focusing on the engines of growth is good for everybody. How else would the PEI Govt's budget get subsidized by over 43%. Casey should rethink what he is doing by spreading animosity towards other parts of Canada. Casey should think.

  • UPWESTER
    February 18, 2014 - 11:17

    Young people need to leave this "province" to get gainful year round emplyment. The people who complain so much about EI are basically those with little skills and are not very employable. For our Liberal MPs to keep harping about EI, is to keep these unemployables in perpetual poverty, and to keep these same MPs in power. An obsession to balance the budget? Would you prefer that governments keep racking up deficits like the Liberal PEI government is doing? You can't speak out of both sides of your mouth.

  • Let's be honest here
    February 18, 2014 - 11:12

    Seriously what can SEAN CASEY do about the budget???The party is in 3rd place ,with a leader who is untried and like an emporer in new clothes. who is already making head shaking decisionsThe headline should read LIBERAL party has meeting about the new budget..it was the same old,same old......40 people were there ,40..amagine...36,000 people in the city and that all that showed up ..Why?? He may be trying to justify the money he is making?It's good PR for the party..... “There is a need young people have expressed to us to have less reactionary policies and more thoughtful, considerate, long-term policies that don’t just address the needs of today but also of tomorrow.” in other words send lots of money..lots of it ..we will buy votes ....the old way of doing things....It's not going to happen ...the budget will be balanced....then there will be aVote getting budget..with lots of pirks.....All Govt s do that ....Maybe it is time that "young Islanders" get educated ..take a trade , or start their own business..instead of depending on the GOVT........and having polictians standing in front of us and talking lots of stuff we already know.........meanwhile up west they are happy as apig in poop..they have a government member ..a cabinet minister and they seem to be happy.....most of them anyway...guess what ...I think we voted terribly WRONG in the last election and now people realize it.........As far as Harper and his crew go.....they seem to look after their ridings........let s be honest here.The way of doing business has changed......Vote for whoever you want ....meetings like this are NOT going to do anything.........

  • don
    February 18, 2014 - 10:46

    casey if this was the liberals doing this you would be backing it as a perfect idea. to me i call it "two-faced". if you are so perfect tell us how to cure the problem and while you are at it tell us how to cure cancer? why are you not crying about what wes is doing to the island people? tell us