Shea announces changes to employment insurance in Prince Edward Island

Eric McCarthy
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Federal Fisheries Minister and Egmont MP Gail Shea

MILL RIVER — Starting in October, Prince Edward Island will be divided into two regions for Employment Insurance benefits calculations purposes, a capital region and a rural region which takes in the rest of P.E.I.

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea, on behalf of Employment and Social Development Canada, made the announcement Thursday at the Rodd Mill River Resort. Close to 80 Egmont constituents were in attendance for the announcement, most of them at the invitation of the minister.

Shea pointed out the capital region’s unemployment rate between June of 2011 and June of 2013 was five percentage points lower than the rest of P.E.I., and was less dependent upon seasonal employment.

By placing the rest of P.E.I. in a separate EI region, Shea said the EI system will be able to more adequately reflect the realities of the local labour markets and tailor programs accordingly.

Shea said EI changes in 1996 resulted in Canada being divided into 58 EI regions. While the capital cities in the rest of Canada were regions of themselves, all of P.E.I. was left as one region. She said the change gong into place in October fixes that. She said similar changes were recently put in place for the capital regions of the three Canadian territories.

The federal minister responsible for P.E.I. provided an example of how the change will benefit rural Islanders.

Under the current system, based on the November 2012 Statistics Canada reported unemployment rate of 11.5 per cent for P.E.I., she said a seasonal worker with 520 insurable hours would be entitled to 23 weeks of benefits with a divisor for calculation of benefits of 17.

She said the actual unemployment rate for rural P.E.I. at that time was 14.9 per cent. If that rate were applied, the rural worker with 520 hours would be entitled to 29 weeks of benefits and a divisor of 14.

“This will result in higher benefits,” she said to applause.

The change even won a nod of approval from Liberal MLA Hal Perry who crossed the floor from the provincial Conservatives last year over his concerns about EI changes.

“I think it’s a good announcement; it’s a start,” he said. “Of course, we’d like to see it back to what it was before these reform changes were made by the federal government, but it’s good for rural P.E.I. and it’s a definite start.”

Prince County Fishermen’s Association president, Lee Knox said he was thrilled by what he heard. “Seasonal workers had to leave P.E.I., because you can’t live on nothing,” Knox said in describing the EI shortfall.

“This is going to help the economy of western P.E.I. big time,” he said. “The criteria for EI is going to go up and the weeks of benefits are going to go as high as five to six weeks in the difference to what it was last year.”

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Canada

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Recent comments

  • BGG
    February 26, 2014 - 06:57

    Whether you work seasonal, full time or part time you are still deducted EI premiums on your weekly wage. Who today can say that their jobs are secured with all the job cuts that are happening on P.E.I. So no matter where you live in P.E.I. you should be entitle to receive your EI benefit under the same system. Our Island is small and people do travel to work everyday, some farther than others. Another problem today is when someone wants to better themselves and their education level is not high, they have it that they have to write a test called TOWES which with what I seen of it is more for an engineer to pass. It cost $100 to take it and if you don't pass it you loose your money. You are not accepted to enter into a program to better yourself to get a job. I think this is discrimination towards our good working class. Rules should be changed with Skills PEI so everyone has a fair chance to apply.

  • jimmy hoffa
    February 21, 2014 - 15:54

    will Duffy be eligable for EI since he only works partime

  • Who Thought This One Out
    February 21, 2014 - 08:16

    Apparently the Conservatives have not learned from the Senate scandal and think that it is only Senators and live one place but say they live somewhere else to get more money! I am sure the people who live in rural parts of the rest of the country that have seasonal employment have the same issues as those living in rural PEI so when will the Conservatives try to buy their votes?

  • MFH
    February 21, 2014 - 08:15

    Getting rid of Shea, Harper, the rest of the Conservative government and electing a "normal" government who will undo some of the damage that has been done to EI and other parts of our system is the only way this will be fixed.

    February 21, 2014 - 07:58

    Sounds good but will I have to travel to the riding of Peter MacKay to file for EI benefits or will Gail Shea open an EI office in Tignish .

  • Life Ges On
    February 21, 2014 - 07:58

    Just like the PNP divided the Island. Big difference, EI recipients will not get rich for free!

  • townie22
    February 21, 2014 - 07:44

    ah, the old "divide and conquer" strategy. if, and i mean if, the CPC got in again next election, do you really think these changes would be allowed to stay? with another 4 years ahead of them, this would be one of the first things rolled back. by the way, Eastern Charlottetown has a higher unemployment rate than Western Charlottetown, now that i think of it, my block has a higher unemployment rate then one block over, do you think........

  • Adolphus
    February 21, 2014 - 07:06

    Senator Shea. There - finally said. Good-bye Callbeck, hello Shea...Surprise!

    February 21, 2014 - 04:07

    Sure Gail Like Summerside is in a Rural area...This is vote buying at its Lowest...How stupid do You and Stevie think the people on P.E.I. are...Sad very Sad.

  • Just a dumb plumber
    February 20, 2014 - 22:25

    My mailbox is big enough for a few more names I live up west so for 100 bucks cash (I'm drawing pogey) I will let you use it Politicians need not reply as maybe you live in the urban zone

      February 21, 2014 - 15:26

      No work for a plumber? I find that hard to believe.Enjoying your winter off?

    • Just a dumb plumber
      February 21, 2014 - 21:23

      To upwester Your are right in saying hard to believe I don't live up west just a joke .i have lived in alberta for 20 years and never had to look for 1 days work usually had to so no I'm to busy most days .no disrespect intended but if people would go to the work as we did years ago no one would even have to worry about stupid decisions idiots make . yes it's hard to leave home to start in a new place but once you do it you realize it's the best move to make to make a future for us and our children . If we would have stayed on the island years ago we would be on that stupid pogey train also so to whoever can do it GO NOW .and by the way if any plumbers or sheet metal men need work comment here and your hired if you want to come out this way

  • Tinking
    February 20, 2014 - 21:08

    Wayne Easter or Shawn should be able to fix this, they talk a good story!!!

  • Quick Draw McGraw
    February 20, 2014 - 20:40

    Way to go Gail! It's quite clear you and your party are trying to buy back all the votes you were going to lose in the next election because of your previous stance and following of the party line. All you've done here is divide Islanders and the province. But then again the Harperites have made a career of dismantling Canada since they formed a government. Sorry to say, it won't work because not all of us have just fallen off a turnip truck like you'd like to believe. We can see through your dirt, Gail. Just another example of the Harper dictatorship.

  • Adolphus
    February 20, 2014 - 20:39

    You Know, Sail Ghea, that's a great idea. Time to start renting P.O. boxes. I'm sure future Senator Shea didn't think of that one. (Don't forget Ms. Callbeck will soon be enjoying her eternal reward (no, not that, her senate pension). Might as well give Gail something for being such a loyal lap-dog.

  • True Patriot Love
    February 20, 2014 - 20:33

    Her seat is the only one that can be shaken in 2015. Unseat her and take Canada back from Conservative Mismanagement.

  • Don't Believe the Hype
    February 20, 2014 - 19:43

    So looking on the map, if you live on the Crooked Creek Rd, you are 22 KM from downtown Charlottetown. As a result, you are rural and benefit from this change. If you live on the Toronto Rd in Green Gables / Cavendish, you are 37 KM from downtown Charlottetown. Congrats, you are now in the Metropolitan Charlottetown Area and are deemed URBAN! More hours for less benefits for you. Just goes to show, anyone can make a mistake. To really mess things up requires a politician!

  • dave
    February 20, 2014 - 17:05

    WOW! Really! another initiative for people in rural areas to take advantage of the EI system.

  • Dan Arsenault
    February 20, 2014 - 17:04

    Funny how most of Gail's district is considered rural.

    • Snow day
      February 20, 2014 - 20:27

      Cuz it is...

  • WOW
    February 20, 2014 - 16:57

    This is going to be some can of worms . I just don't know . Looks like moving further towards two classes of people in PEI .

    • Regular Joe
      Regular Joe
      February 21, 2014 - 11:06

      That's nothing new there have been two or more classes of people here ever since Giz an Wes took the reins

    February 20, 2014 - 16:39

    Just another case of asking someone else to pay your way, no surprise.

  • intobed
    February 20, 2014 - 15:55

    Don't worry anyone. We had experts tell us last year that implementing the HST would improve our economy, lower prices, and employers would hire more staff as a result. Therefore EI shouldn't be such a big issue anymore ... right?

  • Sail Ghea
    February 20, 2014 - 15:08

    WOW!!!! Im moving to the coutry. And renting my car out...wait ...I will just change my mailing address...FAIR....I THINK NOT

  • Adophus
    February 20, 2014 - 14:33

    Is this legal?

    • gixer
      March 12, 2014 - 13:30

      Actually it's not legal. if you check the Canadian Civil Rights Act and what qualifies as Discriminitory Practise, it reads "Providing someone goods, services, facilities or accommodation in a way that treats them adversely and differently." The key word in this part of the act is "services".

  • Sentance
    February 20, 2014 - 13:43

    This will affect claimants in three ways. It will affect the number of hours one needs to work to qualify. Charlottetown residents will see a substantially increased number of hours, rural residents a bit of a fall. It will affect the number of weeks one gets benefits. Again Capital area claimants will get fewer weeks than previously, rural residents more. And it will affect the calculation of weekly benefits, with rural residents needing to look at fewer best weeks, Capital residents more.

    • Sentance is right
      February 20, 2014 - 20:49

      I couldn't agree more because under the present system, Capital region people are getting higher benefits than the actual EI rate allows, working less hours than they need to qualify, and benefiting from better calculations, this has been working in reverse for rural residents for 18 years, for all that time rural people were being treated unfairly because the averaging affect meant they would not receive the benefits they deserved because of this unfair way used to calculate the rate, finally someone has stood up for rural PEI