Shea defends new EI regions, chamber raises concerns

Teresa Wright
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Beginning October 2014, Prince Edward Island will be divided into two EI regions — a capital region and a non-capital region.

Egmont MP Gail Shea says the creation of two employment insurance regions in P.E.I. is not a political move, despite the fact her riding’s constituents stand to benefit most from the changes.

Shea said residents of rural areas of the province have been disadvantaged by the way EI rates are currently calculated.

“The unemployment rate on P.E.I. was measured at around 11 per cent when in fact in rural P.E.I. it was more like 13, 14, 15 per cent and in the greater Charlottetown area it was eight or nine per cent. That was a big variance,” Shea told reporters Friday.

“People in Rural P.E.I. were not getting the benefits that they should have been getting.”


Under the new rules, which will take effect in October, Prince Edward Island will go from being one EI region to having two EI zones - a capital and a non-capital region. The change will split P.E.I.’s unemployment rate in two.

Since the unemployment rate is used to calculate how many weeks of benefits a claimant is eligible for, this change means rural claimants will have to work fewer hours and will receive higher EI benefits.

Those living in the new Charlottetown region will, alternately, have to work longer to qualify for EI and could be eligible for less money.

The federal department is using a census agglomeration map of Charlottetown to identify this new metropolitan EI region.

The use of this map is drawing much criticism, as it encompasses not only Charlottetown proper, but also the better part of Queens County, including a number of rural areas and communities.

The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce is raising concern over the new regional divide.

“Divide seems an appropriate term, for in the Chamber’s view, that is what this change may do,” stated a press release issued by the chamber this week.

“It is not that P.E.I. is either urban or rural. It is both, tied together in one future.”

The chamber says these changes do nothing to address concerns of employers and workers across the province relating to the changes in EI introduced in January of 2013.

“The announcement does not address the pressing needs for job creation across the province. Without additional employment opportunities, seasonal workers within the Charlottetown (region) will be disadvantaged relative to those outside the region.”

In the House of Commons Friday, Charlottetown MP Sean Casey accused Shea of blatantly trying to help her own constituents for personal political gain.

“Why has the government pitted islanders against islanders in a desperate move to salvage the minister's seat?” Casey asked during question period in Ottawa.

Shea told reporters in Charlottetown Friday her constituents have a higher unemployment rate than the capital area, and that is the reason this change will be made.

“It’s not political for me,” she said.

“Right across the country the capital areas are not part of the unemployment rate fir the entire provinces, so the three territories and P.E.I. have been changed to reflect the realities of the unemployment rate in the local area.”

Organizations: Less money.The federal department, Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, House of Commons

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, EI regions Rural P.E.I. Queens

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Recent comments

  • Sad state
    March 03, 2014 - 14:20

    Sad state . It costs basically humans the same to live and maintain a family home and basic needs I am surprised that this division is not a human rights issue . When it comes to EI we all pay into it . I cannot see this as equality for islanders . It going to cause a lot of problems . For people . And contribute to mental health if people can't have basic needs met during under employment and as it is crime rate increasing and suicide due to poverty .

  • Disappointed Joe
    March 02, 2014 - 11:26

    This dirty deed, another of many by Harper and company, is against the Constitution of Canada and hopefully will be challenged. If my memory serves me correct, I believe that all Canadians are to be treated equally and fairly no matter their race, religion, color, ethnic background, etc. regardless where they live in Canada. But when did PEI ever mean anything to Harper and his anti-democratic Reformers? These people aren't Conservatives, they are anything but Conservative in the traditional sense. I guess that's why they have systematically destroyed every program in this country. Come next election, Harper, Shea and all the anti-democrats will be unemployed...well, Shea will probably get a Senate appointment for doing what daddy Stevie told her to do and she can continue in her role of representing all Islanders, something she chooses time and time again in her present role not to do.

  • Disappointed Islander
    March 02, 2014 - 10:38

    Shea should be ashamed of herself for this sham of a deal her and the Harper government have concocted all in the name of trying to buy her votes. Harper has done nothing but attacked the disadvantaged in this country and divided Canadians on numerous issues. He's even bullied poor senior citizens and veterans, the very people who made this country what it once was before he came along. Remember folks, these people aren't Conservatives, they're Reformers - huge difference and certainly not in a positive way. But people are finally seeing through all the smoke and mirrors and in the end Harper, Shea and a whole lot more will lose their jobs, too.

    March 01, 2014 - 19:22

    This is what happens Folks when the Country is run by a Vindictive Dictator. Shea is just one of Harper's Puppets who is feathering Her own nest. Disgusting !!...Harper's Reform Party is By Far the Worst Govt. Canada has ever had.

  • Islander at heart
    March 01, 2014 - 18:00

    Shea will win her seat back because islanders connot see the big picture... They will vote her back in because a small portion of pei will benefit and the economy will suffer because of it ... Therefore ALL of pei will suffer because of it .. Islanders are out for themselves and not each other that's the problem here... Islanders can't stick together on issues that benefit some and not others... We are ALL equil and until we realize it pei is DOOMED!!!!

  • fred
    March 01, 2014 - 17:44

    @ souwester. Sorry . This went away over your head. If you smash your car and it cost $15.000 to fix and you put it through your insurance; Do think you would get $15,000 to fix it or just get back what you paid that year $300.00.. Look at the big picture and see where gov. wastes your tax money ;and then complain.

  • Say "No" To Gail Shea
    March 01, 2014 - 16:47

    Gail Shea is getting tossed into the street after the next election. I hope she has a backup plan, because the people of PEI are sick of her foolishness.

  • Moonmad
    March 01, 2014 - 16:14

    So Shea didn't excuse herself and head for the can when asked a pertinent question? this mess must be illegal, Shea is possibly the worst federal rep in some time.

  • To fedup
    March 01, 2014 - 15:42

    A person with a brain would ask the same question you have asked but it appears Ms. Shea has lost hers. There is no answer or common sense to this.

  • feddupp
    March 01, 2014 - 14:50

    could someone explain to me if I fish and live in town and someone else fishes and lives in alberton why should they get better ei than me

  • OH MY
    March 01, 2014 - 12:49

    GAIL ju st doing as she is told to do by STRPHEN... welcome to the SENATE GAIL when CATHERINE retires.... GAILS reward for doing as she is told by STEPHEN...........

  • fred
    March 01, 2014 - 10:27

    Lets do a little math . The extra 5 weeks costs an average of $250.00 per person a week, x 5 = $1250.00 per person. If 400 people were paid the extra 5 weeks /This would only cost $500.000 for 400 people. Ask yourselves; Would you sooner support 400 people and their families ( just getting back some of their own money they paid in ) or Pay out $ 500.000 The same amount to keep (ONE ) senator (on the taxpayers expense)

    • Sou'Wester
      March 01, 2014 - 15:17 need to do the math. Using $250. per wk.(your figure) at 36 weeks drawing EI, that amounts to $9000. They would have contributed about $400. to the fund. How do you figure they are just getting back "some of the money" they paid in. It's not their money they are getting, its the money of the people in the rest of Canada that work year round. You're starting to sound like a fisherman.

    • Dumb idea or what
      March 01, 2014 - 18:19

      Fishing EI can be $514 per week x 26 weeks for summer claim plus another 26 weeks for winter claim . According to the fishing EI gov website . They onlt pay $840 in premiums .

  • To Full time worker
    March 01, 2014 - 10:19

    Your point taken but what about some who cannot leave to go else where because of health or children they are raising on their own or taking care of their elderly the list goes on and on. There is a lot of things to consider before one should stand up and pat themselves on the back because they are doing what they believe is the right thing to do and that is great if your life provides you with been able to do this but everyone may not be provided in life or able to do what you can. No I am not on EI but do have compassion for others in life that do not always have it easy trying to provide for their families if it be part time work on EI or whatever still trying to provide for their loved ones.

  • Full-time worker
    March 01, 2014 - 09:46

    I would love to be able to afford to live in rural PEI. Unfortunately I cannot find either seasonal work that would sustain me the year around or full time year around work in those areas. Therefore, I live where there is work. Whether that be Charlottetown or another province it is my responsibility to support my family not the government's. EI is a safety net not a regular income source. Whether you live in rural pei or Charlottetown. If you can't make it "around" with your current income, maybe it's time to make a change in your life. I'm tired of working year round to support those that just don't want to work! Let the abusive comments fly.

    • Full time worker too
      March 01, 2014 - 10:25

      So your solution is to find full time work on PEI or move? I think both are easier said then done. But let's say all of the seasonal workers found full time work and the rest moved. So there, now we're not supporting them anymore. Okay, so summer rolls around, who's going to be working all those jobs?? The Parks, the campgrounds, the restaurants, the roads, construction, the garden centres, the fishermen, harvesters, etc... Students? Sure, they will fill some of those spots but certainly not all. When you think of the amount of jobs there are in summertime compared to winter - there is a huge difference. Sure, it would be nice not to have to "support" so many people while we work our year round jobs but it's not realistic to think people can find year round work here. And I'd hate to see everyone move off this Island because of that and we need those seasonal workers. Without them PEI wouldn't survive. Personally I'm tired of working year round to support our government. We pay so much in taxes and they waste so much of it. What we pay in EI is nothing compared to that. I get what you are saying but it's just not realistic. We live on a very seasonal Island and that is never going to change. So for the people who have a problem with that, well maybe they should move.

  • Rural Guy
    March 01, 2014 - 09:09

    As someone who has lived in rural PEI all my life. I have a hard time understanding how I am now classed as Urban. I work in a seasonal industry in the area and now a co worker that lives 2 km from me in the rural zone needs less hours and gets more weeks for doing the same job in the same area as I do. What happened to Summerside as it is classed as an urban area according to the 2011 census map.(The island has two urban areas. The largest surrounds Charlottetown Harbour, situated centrally on the island's southern shore, and consists of the capital city Charlottetown, and suburban towns Cornwall and Stratford and a developing urban fringe. A much smaller urban area surrounds Summerside Harbour, situated on the southern shore 40 km (25 mi) west of Charlottetown Harbour, and consists primarily of the city of Summerside.) If Gail Shea wants to make it fair to all islanders than she should have all urban areas included as I am sure the employment rate in Summerside is higher than were I live and work.

  • no more vote
    March 01, 2014 - 08:29

    Ms Shea. Do you think the other half of the Island are stupid, yes the other half because YOU JUST PITTED ONE HALF OF THE ISLAND AGAINST THE OTHER. This can cause a lot of problems....

  • Change is eminent
    March 01, 2014 - 08:08

    A politician saying" it is not political", makes me nervous. Pack your bags Gail your big fat pension awaits you. Good thing you wont have to file for EI.

    March 01, 2014 - 07:44

    This women must have lost all her marbles or something. I feel she should sign herself in. I hope she is going to find all the jobs for people in the areas now that need more weeks and less pay when all you see and hear is more places every day laying workers off . GOOD LUCK to all the employers in the Charlottetown area that she has now claimed a Charlottetown area getting seasonal workers should be great for our "GENTLE ISLAND" tourism.

  • Sean Brown
    March 01, 2014 - 07:41

    Gail needs a pink slip and a map of PEI and charlottetown handed to her and told to get out. Last time I checked Rice Point sure as heck isnt on the map of Charlottetown

  • Janet Preston
    March 01, 2014 - 07:35

    I wonder if the Government have forgotten that this is our money they are denying working Canadians. We pay 75% (is it ) of the politicians pensions, yet if you work a seasonal job which is a large majority of jobs in PEI they are refusing to pay to supplement Islanders during the off season.

  • Joe Citizen
    March 01, 2014 - 07:31

    “It’s not political for me,” States Mrs Harper. Meanwhile systematically, geographically discriminating against an entire region of hapless urbanites whilst feathering her nest and cementing the attitude of victimization to her constituents. Stupid is as stupid does.

  • Lon
    March 01, 2014 - 07:19

    Is this a "divide-and-conquer" strategy by the Harper government? We need a Uniter, not a Divider!

    • Let's SEE
      March 02, 2014 - 09:52

      OK,,, if I were a seasonal worker living in Charlottetown 'declared area' I'd MOVE to just outside the boundary to RURAL PEI to get the benefits.... Sorry Charlottetown,,,, people moving OUT NOT IN.... This is a real win for rural PEI,,, more people to use our stores, more kids for our schools. Life is better in the RURAL SIDE!!!!!! (we better get some construction going)