© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Mayor Clifford Lee presides over the regular meeting of Charlottetown city council Monday night.
Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says the federal government is cooking up another “senate fiasco’’ with recent changes to the EI system.
Lee made those comments Monday night following city council’s regular public monthly meeting where council passed a resolution urging government to reverse those changes.
The resolution states that the city “publicly state its opposition to the recent changes to the EI program for the Charlottetown area’’.
Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced changes that will see P.E.I. split into one region around Charlottetown and one region in the rest of the province, which will determine the number of hours needed to collect EI and how long recipients will be able to collect benefits.
Lee said his main concern is that the change makes it more difficult for people who live in the Charlottetown zone to apply for EI.
“The whole concept makes absolutely no sense . . . and is having a negative impact on this community. It’s going to encourage people or force people to use somebody else’s address because what’s happening is people can’t survive under the rules and if you can’t survive under the rules what do you do? You try to get around the rules,’’ Lee said.
Coun. Mitchell Tweel called the resolution evasive and ambiguous and tried to defer the motion. The deferral was deadlocked 5-5 with Lee voting to move forward.
Tweel said he wanted to come back with one that was “comprehensive, factual and all inclusive’’ and one that illustrated the concerns of urban and rural P.E.I.
Tweel also took exception to the fact Shea isn’t named in the resolution. Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney is. Tweel said he doesn’t understand how Lee can “tear down a federal minister’’ (Lee took Shea to task after the changes were announced) yet not even mention her in the resolution.
Coun. Rob Lantz voted for the resolution but still had concerns.
“My only concern was that the resolution seemed to be asking that all of the recent EI changes be overturned and I didn’t think that was right,’’ Lantz said.
“In fact, many of those changes are positive for many other people on Prince Edward Island. On the face of it the changes appear to be unfair to Charlottetown.’’
Lee said there was no sense in deferring it, that this council is elected to represent the interests of residents in the capital city.
“(Changing) a word here or a word there in our resolution is not going to change the fact that residents of this city are being negatively impacted by the recent changes announced by the Government of Canada . . . this is bad public policy.’’