New EI rules disadvantage urban Islanders: Roach

Teresa Wright
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This census map shows the boundaries of a new Charlottetown EI region. Critics of new EI rules announced Thursday say those who live within this area will be eligible for less money and will have to work more hours to qualify for employment insurance. 

Prince Edward Island’s employment minister says changes announced Thursday to the way employment insurance is administered in P.E.I. will divide Islanders and create significant inequities.

P.E.I. Innovation Minister Allen Roach says the new changes may be positive for rural Islanders, but residents of a new urban EI region in P.E.I. will have to work longer to qualify for EI benefits and will be receive less money.

“The people in the Charlottetown metropolitan area are going to be hurt by this, they know that,” Roach said in an interview with The Guardian.

Beginning in October, Prince Edward Island will be go from being one EI region to having two EI zones — a capital region and a non-capital region.

In a news conference in P.E.I. Thursday, federal Fisheries Minister and Egmont MP Gail Shea said there are higher unemployment rates in non-capital areas of the province, and this separation of rural from urban will make the EI system “more fair and equitable for Islanders living in rural areas.”

The change will allow for higher benefits for rural claimants.

But Roach says residents of the new Charlottetown capital region will, in turn, receive less.

He pointed to the fact the federal department is using the Statistics Canada census agglomeration map of Charlottetown to identify this new metropolitan EI region.

This map encompasses not only Charlottetown proper, but also the better part of Queens County, which includes a number of rural areas and communities.

Everyone in this new urban EI zone will require in excess of 100 hours more to qualify for EI and will receive five fewer weeks of benefits than they were previously entitled to, Roach said.

Alternately, Islanders living in the rural EI zone will now require approximately 30 hours less to qualify and will receive about three additional weeks of benefits.

This is due to a change in the way benefits are calculated. Under the change announced Thursday, the percentage of Islanders on unemployment will be lower in the new Charlottetown EI region and the unemployment rate will be higher in the outer lying areas. This changes the formula for EI eligibility and thus changes the weeks that one is eligible for and, thus, the amounts that can be claimed.

“The people in the urban area – they’re going to get less money and they’re going to have to work more hours,” Roach said.

He was also quick to point out the only federal riding not negatively affected by these changes is Shea’s.

“All of Gail Shea’s riding gets an advantage out of this. Part of (Malpeque MP) Wayne Easter’s riding is at a disadvantage, all of (Charlottetown MP) Sean Casey’s riding is at a disadvantage and part of (Cardigan MP) Lawrence MacAulay’s riding is disadvantaged,” Roach said.

Casey said he believes this is a political move.

“It’s no small coincidence that the entire riding of Egmont is on the favourable side of the line.”

While the creation of this new rural EI zone does provide greater help and money to those in rural P.E.I. who have been struggling, it comes at the expense of seasonal workers who happen to live in the Charlottetown area, Casey said.

“It’s not a matter of saying to one group of Islanders, ‘We’re going to leave you alone,’ and to another, ‘We’re going to make it better.’ It’s saying to one group, ‘We’re taking from you and we’re giving to the others.’ And the ones we’re taking from includes everybody that lives in my riding.”

Easter said the reinstatement of a cancelled pilot program that gave five additional weeks of benefits to P.E.I. would have been a better fix to the province’s EI concerns.

“Instead they cut P.E.I. into little pieces and they put two neighbours a community apart, both working at the same job in a seasonal industry, and treated exceptionally different.”

Roach said the changes do nothing to address the concerns the provincial government has been raising about the EI changes for the last year.

“It’s going to slightly advantage some of our Islanders, but it’s also going to dramatically disadvantage other Islanders, and that’s certainly not what we asked for.”

A spokesperson for Shea’s office, Sophie Doucet, responded by saying she doesn’t see how Roach could oppose the new changes.

“Today's announcement will give access to improved benefits to many seasonal workers in rural areas. Minister Roach should ask his constituents what they think about this announcement before rushing to judgment,” Doucet said.

Organizations: Statistics Canada, Malpeque MP, Cardigan MP

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Queens

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Recent comments

  • Islander First
    February 26, 2014 - 20:37

    So any businesses within this region should be looking after their own? What about the residents of this region that travel to other regions to work seasonally, could they be at least be reimbursed for their fuel and travel costs? I myself I'm not affected by this change, but have family, friends, and employees that will be. Gail Shea should be smart enough to think of Prince Edward Island as just that, not as the rest of Canada, If this is not a political decision I have no idea what is,... gotta make some cuts, where should we start... Lol, but its really not funny! is that what we expect of our elected officials when the backs of all islanders are up against the wall, sacrifice a few, and the rest of us will be alright? We are all Islanders first and we should look after our own as a whole, not hang a few out to dry so there is more gravy for your own. Its hard for me to believe that any Islander could stand there and make that announcement, I wonder how many residents of our region were invited to hear that announcement? I guess gone are the days of all for one and one for all, now its sell your soul and save your own. I didnt give him much credit at the time, but that old drunk at the bootlegger was right, common sense isn't that common!

  • Treena
    February 22, 2014 - 13:05

    The quote, "entitled to" does not sit well with me. This is part of the problem....

  • Townie
    February 22, 2014 - 10:22

    This is fine with me so long as employers in Charlottetown do not hire ANYONE who lives outside that zone. You choose to live out there with the hicks, then you work out there and shop out there. Don't work or shop in town and don't use our streets or water. See how you like your special status then.....

    • KATIE
      February 24, 2014 - 16:55

      One has to look at the Summerside Tax Centre(IN GAIL SHEA's RIDING) I wonder what will happen to the employees that live in Charlottetown and work at the Summerside Tax Centre?? Will they be under "Gails New Ruling" another twist- those that live in Egmont riding and work at DVA in Charlottetown----are they under the new EI ruling???? Only the Conservatives could think up this mess, inconsistencies and shows a complete lack of knowledge on the effects of this latest move. Hope she doesn't think -in any way-that this will help her get re-elected.

    February 21, 2014 - 12:52

    The way i read this is a fisherman in Tignish or Souris who make in the six figures in the summer will get more weeks and require less hours to get it then a person who was on minimum wage in Charlottetown for the summer. These government clowns get paid to come up with totally stupid ideas like this. We are in trouble with brain dead politicians.

    February 21, 2014 - 10:59

    By Far the worst attempt of vote buying I have ever seen. Even Shea was embarrassed announcing this one. How stupid does Dictator Stevie think the people on the Island Are?? Dictator Stevie is 8 points behind in the polls and sinking...I can wait for him to Quit. By far the Worst Govt Canada has ever had.

    • bigbear
      February 21, 2014 - 12:27

      This is the same as other Provinces. Now we will have lots of employees in the rural areas to fill the jobs and not have to bring in foreign workers. Logically, more work in the city than in rural areas so one can assume you have a easrier time in the city to get a job. This would be the same in Halifax or Moncton.

  • Questioning
    February 21, 2014 - 10:18

    Hmmm, I wonder if this could be challenged under the Charter of Rights?

  • JD
    February 21, 2014 - 10:18

    Great Idea, the entire country has different regions, maybe now they won't just move to the city and leave the fish plants and urban areas having to bring in foreign workers, just like the post office we never got door to door, again if you don't like move to Alberta and find out what work is like.

  • changes nothing
    February 21, 2014 - 09:09

    Funny how the lazy ones will either move to a rural area or get a rural PO box. This really changes nothing for those people. Hopefully the lazy ones move out of town. I expect rental rates in rural areas will see an increase late summer and into early fall. Too bad the lazy ones will have to acutally work for a living. Unfortunate really.....haha, what a joke.....

  • FED up
    February 21, 2014 - 08:50

    Who designed this grid there seems to be a area on the North that is not included wonder who's district this is ? We now live in the Charlottetown area according to this even though we have never whats next pay Charlottetown taxes ! It is bad enough now that my Husband and son have to leave to province to find work and yet all the money made is spent in PEI even though I get to stay alone 10 months of the year and am disabled so try shoveling snow and mowing grass in pain, maybe the Gov will allocate those non working people to help out (NOT). I think what is going to happen is when you need a trade to fix something they will be all gone to Alberta good luck everyone !

  • re read article
    February 21, 2014 - 08:43

    to those who say witin the urban area there is no change for them read this again "Everyone in this new urban EI zone will require in excess of 100 hours more to qualify for EI and will receive five fewer weeks of benefits than they were previously entitled to, Roach said. "Alternately, Islanders living in the rural EI zone will now require approximately 30 hours less to qualify and will receive about three additional weeks of benefits".

  • Amazing
    February 21, 2014 - 08:27

    All the Tory shrills are out in full force today. Thanks Gail for pitting Islanders against Islanders. Shameful!

  • Carmen
    February 21, 2014 - 08:25

    well, here's a novel idea... MOVE... to some place there is work.. and don't quit your job to move back Home... and be denied your EI.. what ever happened to the mind set of "working" for a living.. I couldn't get a job on the Island, so I left, and have been employed, full time, for 13 years this June.. some of you, might wanna give it a try.. getting pretty sick of listening to the EI whining!

    • statler
      February 21, 2014 - 10:26

      If you are so happy after moving away from home, and seem to be down on the people who still want to live here, why do you still stick your nose in you seem to be watching the news quite close, if you are that happy why not clam up and leave the rest of the Islanders alone??

    • Carmen.... to Statler
      February 21, 2014 - 14:24

      Anywhere in my post, did I state, that I was Happy, living away from my entire family?

    • Al
      February 21, 2014 - 19:17

      Carman is right no more whining about ei lots of work if you want it

  • memyselfandi
    February 21, 2014 - 08:14

    What a crock of BS this is!! What a genius to come up with this plan. Do they think that just because we live in Charlottetown that finding a job going to be more plentiful and easier? Well no it's not! I've applied to over 30 jobs with absolutely no responses. No thank you letters, no "pfo" letters. I have solid references and letters of recommendations and still I don't hear anything. This BS really cheezes me off!! Time to start privatizing EI, it's not Government money, they seem to think it is, and already dipped into the millions surplus with their greedy hands!!! Grrr, I feel so mad!

    • John Wayne (The Duke)
      February 21, 2014 - 10:41

      If The EI Drops to 15 Weeks Like Other Provinces in Canada in The City Area... Where PEI Is So Small....People Will Just Leave.... Business Will Bankrupt..... Apartment Building Will Shut Down. The Government Has To Realize That This is a Small Province And Their is Only So Many Jobs To Go Around And If They Make EI Harder.... People Will Leave.... I Estimating Another 5000 In The Next 3 Years..... Look At The Charlottetown Mall Empty at Times....I Heard a Girl Said Yesterday That They Never Had 1 Customer All Day in a Certain Business. The Government Don't Care... They re Working We Are Not....

  • Unreal
    February 21, 2014 - 08:09

    Mr Roach just who elected you? Charlottetown? Your the next Alan Campbell....forgot where you came from bud-not that you ever knew....

    • townie22
      February 21, 2014 - 09:56

      at least, as a Minister, he is standing up for ALL Islander's unlike Minister Shay. look's like the divide and conquer strategy is working.

    • Nice Wheels
      February 21, 2014 - 12:52

      Many nights my family goes humgry-the HST has been a burden on us-meanwhile Mr Roach drives around our district of Montague Kilmuir in his Government Jeep thats payed for by us working poor-Mr Roach you have a rude awakening coming if you run in 2016

    • Blaming the wrong person
      February 23, 2014 - 10:39

      @Nice Wheels: Why are you blaming an MP (federal) for an economic policy brought in by the provincial government? If you're blaming anyone, it should be Wes Sheridan and Robert Ghiz.

  • Catt
    February 21, 2014 - 05:54

    Time to move outta town and go live within peaceful more money in the country ..

  • Enough is enough
    February 21, 2014 - 05:40

    As a seasonal worker living in Charlottetown I have seen enough. Never will a Tory vote ever be made by this family.

    • yes
      February 21, 2014 - 09:11

      Well in the words of other people from "Charlottetown" when it comes to medical care for rural islanders, If you don't like it effing move and shut the eff up.

    • Henry Sow
      February 21, 2014 - 11:32

      Good for you. Vote Liberal next time and continue to be gouged with taxes, on almost every commodity you use. Vote Liberal and be thankful for all the new jobs they have created here in PEI. The Liberals sit back with their hands out looking for more Federal dollars, only to dish it out to their patriotic friends. So yes by all means, let Ghiz and his bunch of crooks continue to destroy the Province.

    • Henry Sow
      February 21, 2014 - 11:34

      Good for you. Vote Liberal next time and continue to be gouged with taxes, on almost every commodity you use. Vote Liberal and be thankful for all the new jobs they have created here in PEI. The Liberals sit back with their hands out looking for more Federal dollars, only to dish it out to their patriotic friends. So yes by all means, let Ghiz and his bunch of crooks continue to destroy the Province.

  • Jackofalltrades
    February 21, 2014 - 05:35

    Well gee Mr Roach, why don't you and your government get off your butts and help create jobs instead of having your constituents rely on a government insurance. Your government does the exact same thing where you gouge the middle incomers while at the same time give breaks to low income earners....please tell me what the difference is between what your government is doing and what the Federal government is doing in that regard. Talk about a pot calling the kettle black

  • sean
    February 21, 2014 - 03:39

    It is time for harper and his party to get out of cabinet there is no way anyone could be any worse.

  • Fifth floor
    February 21, 2014 - 00:42

    Which riding did you get elected in Roach.. It seems enough of you guys are looking after the city.. still need another term for your next pension Careful!!!!

  • don
    February 20, 2014 - 23:21

    gail you know the mayor of the CAPITAL city of canada will not stand for this he will order you to stop this. so be ready to be sent to the corner.

  • What is wrong with this guy
    February 20, 2014 - 23:11

    for years the system has favored the Charlottetown region now there is finally fairness being applied, why is it that when fairness is applied to rural islanders it is charity but when the capital gets an advantage at the expense of the rural area it is considered justice, your comments on this are shameful Minister Roach, Gail Shea stands up for us rural islanders in Ottawa and you won't even do it in Charlottetown

  • North Shore
    February 20, 2014 - 22:41

    I didn't see anything in the announcement that would indicate a lowering of benefits or the need of more hours of work for the urban stays the same...rural PEI finally gets a break for their seasonal workers. Maybe Mr Roach should be more concerned about ANOTHER 23 lost jobs at Cavendish Farms

    • Read the article again
      February 23, 2014 - 10:43

      "Everyone in this new urban EI zone will require in excess of 100 hours more to qualify for EI and will receive five fewer weeks of benefits than they were previously entitled to, Roach said."

  • Just a dumb plumber
    February 20, 2014 - 22:15

    Hi all just reading this article and I am shocked at this changes to ei benefits because of where you live on pei .whoever came up with this stupid idea should be fired and made live in the urban area and find the extra 100 hours plus find another 5 weeks work on top of that . In a province as small as pei to have different zones is just plain stupid. Does this mean that some of the MLA,s or DR,s or teachers or whoever will get different pay rates also depending where they live What about the people who live in the urban area and work in the rural areas will they be forced to move or lie about where they live (see mike Duffy for instructions)

  • Tell the truth
    February 20, 2014 - 22:13

    Allen Roach is very fast to lay blame for EI But thinks all islanders thinks he is looking out for them. Maybe if the islanders knew his pension from the R.C.M.P is more than they make he would be ashamed of himself. he is not trying to live on less than 10,000 a year.

    • Huh?
      February 21, 2014 - 08:23

      Cavendish Farms is a private organization- what do you expect 'government' to do in this case??

  • Francis
    February 20, 2014 - 21:34

    Well this a nice spit in the face to those seasonal workers & businesses in "Charlottetown". A slight benefit for those outside this poorly designed area & a noticeable kick in the a$$ in it.

  • freddybear
    February 20, 2014 - 21:04

    Mr.Roach your job is to create jobs and no one would have to be on EI. Just do your job.

    • well
      February 21, 2014 - 09:09

      If many islanders would get off their bleeping rear ends and get an education, perhaps there would be more jobs, rather than sitting around waiting for a politician to hand them one with the expectation that the employer would pay for training.

  • wade
    February 20, 2014 - 21:01

    So is she going to do this in every province that need it i am sure that the EI rate in Montreal is lower that some parts of Quebec or is this just a way she thinks she can save her seat

  • Yes Roach Who Lends His Liberal Pals Our Dough
    February 20, 2014 - 20:53

    Yea, yea Roach, I remember him. Guy grows up in a hick town, joins a political party, lends money out to guys Ghiz instructs him on and barks like a seal against Ottawa while losing millions on crappy deals. Does anyone other than the Guardian give a hoot what Roaches says?

  • makes me sick
    February 20, 2014 - 20:40

    Roach, where are you from ...Queens county? you are supposed tp represent Kings county, if you move the capital of PEI with its thousands of government jobs to Montague then we will gladly accept having a fair EI rate applied, right now the rate penalizes us because it is not accurate, Gail Shea tries to fix this and you complain, I can't wait for you to come to my door at the next election.

  • Another Liberal Lie
    February 20, 2014 - 20:28

    Roach does not know anything about the unemployment insurance program and anything about job creation ; as he has proven in his job as Minister responsible for job creation. His record of giving out free money to unproven companies and those with Liberal backgrounds has only increased the debt of PEI to over 2 billion dollars. He fits extremely well in an inept provincial Liberal cabinet; along with Sheridan, McKinley, Sherry, Vessey, and Ghiz himself!!!

  • unbelievable
    February 20, 2014 - 20:17

    So Roach is standing up for Charlottetown against rural PEI, his true colors are showing now, the voters of our district will not forget this.

  • SMC
    February 20, 2014 - 20:09

    How can we justify a difference in benefits for which we all as working people pay into? Essentially we are going to penalize people for where they choose to live. Someone living one street over will now have the opportunity for more money with less work?? Where is the equality in that? You can drive tip to tip on PEI in approximately two hours. This is a daily commute for many people across the country. Why is PEI the exception to this?

    • Regular Joe
      Regular Joe
      February 21, 2014 - 10:53

      Tip to Tip in two hours . What sort of jet car are you driving . You must have a time machine of some sort that can travel at warp speeds . Put the pipe down an check out the real world . Your pretty messed up if you think you can drive from north cape to east point in two hours . Only in a pipe dream could this be done .

    • ????
      February 21, 2014 - 12:38

      2 hours tip to tip??? From Montague to Summerside is 1 hour 45 mins. Do your homework before opening your mouth or typing out comments as in this case.

  • Garth Staples
    February 20, 2014 - 19:22

    Is this guy for real? His very Govt is on EI. 43% OF HIS BUDGET COMES FROM THE FEDERL GOVT.