EI program to spend $1 million more in P.E.I. under new designations

Teresa Wright
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EI regions

New EI regions mean increase in payments to rural Islanders, cut payments for Charlottetown residents

The following story corrects information that appeared in an earlier story published April 14 in The Guardian.

New employment insurance rules that divide P.E.I. into two EI regions will result in $1 million more in EI benefits paid to Islanders, but only those who live in rural areas will see gains from this increase.

That’s because payments for those in the Charlottetown area will be reduced by $14 million every year, while benefits for rural Islanders will increase by $15 million.

A regulatory impact analysis statement for the proposed EI changes was published in the Canada Gazette last Friday.

The cost-benefit statement shows the creation of two EI regions in P.E.I. will increase program costs by $1 million every year.

The Guardian erroneously reported online earlier today and in Monday’s edition of the paper those costs would be reduced by $1 million.

Costs for the feds will, in fact, be increased under the P.E.I. employment changes.

“The Guardian story on April 14 incorrectly stated that (fewer) EI benefits will be paid to Prince Edward Island as a result of the creation of two EI regions. In fact, we expect that there will be $1 million more in EI benefits paid to Prince Edward Island as a result of these changes. More than 9,000 residents of Prince Edward Island are expected to see an increase in their EI benefits because of this change,” said Nick Koolsbergen, director of communications for federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney’s office.

In February, the feds announced Prince Edward Island and the territories would soon be split into new employment insurance regions.

P.E.I. will go from being one EI region to having two EI zones — a capital region and a non-capital region.

This is being done to “reflect the difference in economic conditions between the capital area of Charlottetown and the non-urban areas of Prince Edward Island,” Koolsbergen said.  

“This brings the same fairness to Islanders that is already the case in all other provinces in Canada.”

It has been known since the announcement the change would result in higher benefits for rural claimants.

The cost-benefit analysis released last week now attaches concrete numbers on how this will break down in P.E.I.

It estimates 9,150 EI claimants living outside Charlottetown would have had higher benefits if the changes had been implemented this year.

Meanwhile, 5,450 people in Charlottetown would have seen their benefits reduced.

The federal department estimates those in the Charlottetown region will see their total claims cut by $2,560.

The 9,150 rural Islanders getting a bump in EI payments will see an average total increase of $1,620.

This works out to a total estimated increase for residents of rural P.E.I. of close to $15 million every year.

Meanwhile, payments to EI claimants in the Charlottetown region will be reduced by a yearly total about $14 million.

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee did not mince words in his criticism of this reduction in benefits for capital city residents.

“It’s just cruelness,” he said Monday.

“I’ve said from day one this is bad public policy, it’s a conquer and divide approach and it’s really disappointing when this is what our national government has gotten to.”

He pointed to the fact the only federal riding not negatively affected by these changes is Egmont – currentlyrepresented by federal Fisheries Minister and Conservative MP Gail Shea.

Lee called this blatant patronage.

“The changes were made to the program in an attempt for the federal minister to bring something to her district,” Lee said.

“In order for her to improve the EI program for the people in her district, she had to take money from some other area… to say this is not politics, then can somebody please tell me how the city of Summerside becomes rural P.E.I. under these changes other than the fact the city of Summerside is in Minister Shea’s riding? It’s the only reason.”

The City of Charlottetown passed a resolution last month urging the feds to reverse the EI changes.

Now Lee says the city is looking to form a coalition with ‘like-minded groups’ to help lend a unified voice in opposing the changes.

Stakeholders can provide comment on the proposed changes to EI regions for the next 30 days.

The changes are scheduled to come into effect on Oct. 12.

Organizations: Canada Gazette

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, EI regions Canada Summerside

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Recent comments

    April 15, 2014 - 23:54

    When lobster fishermen milk the EI system for their self entitled multiple summer and winter EI claims and then have a some EI clawedback for income tax It goes into general revenue not back into the EI system . How much depends on their skill in padding their boat operating expences to lower their taxable income . More depends on how much tax free cash sales of catch after achieving 4 EI claims . Income tax free cash sales of Scallops and Lobster is rampant on PEI.

  • jrsplace
    April 15, 2014 - 07:08

    Good luck to all lobster fishermen this year, if they get a good price on their fish the money they draw on EI will be paid back when they file their income tax .This money will go back in the system and all will benefit, a win-win all way round! Good fishing guys!

  • dodie toombs
    April 15, 2014 - 04:44

    I want to thank Mayor Lee for standing up and making his voice heard for all the residents of PEI. Not just for those who live and work in the have not regions of PEI but for all residents of our Province.

  • the real sickofjr
    April 14, 2014 - 21:50

    Why no mention of the fact that lobster fishermen are allowed to draw TWO yes one summer EI claim and then in the very same year a winter EI claim . Two EI claims on the back of employers and working Islanders that pay in premiums so fishermen can have multiple leisure EI claims to drive aroung on all year .

  • upwest proud
    April 14, 2014 - 21:11

    so for 18 years Charlottetown has been receiving 14 million dollar more at the expense of rural islanders, this is over 250 million in a wealth transfer from rural PEI to Capitol city residents. Lee better shut up, if he wants parity with all Canadians then maybe PEI should give up the 350 million we receive in equalization.

  • proud
    April 14, 2014 - 19:10

    Proud of Mayor Lee. Proud. Maybe the people that live outside the Charlottetown area should get jobs in the rural PEI and get out of the city. we are doing what Harper wanted. fighting with ourselves. well done gail

  • waldorf
    April 14, 2014 - 18:24

    Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee does not want rural pei business,all these years the city of chtown lowered pei ei rate in fact you made money of the backs highest rate users.... think Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee............... your city stores will lose rural shoppers if you keep complaing

  • Garth Staples
    April 14, 2014 - 17:51

    Shame! Bad research for the first story. Rural Islanders make far less per hour than urban Islanders.

  • Shaking my head
    April 14, 2014 - 17:16

    Don do you happen to live in rural summerside? Give your head a shake. Let's turn it around and Charlottetown will take the $2500 for each person from your pocket. Kinda stings now doesn't it??

  • don
    April 14, 2014 - 16:30

    How dare you call it patronage. “Lee called this blatant patronage” everything you want the ghiz gang gives you and you cried when the government moved a garage up west. In my opinion you look at PEI as there is 3 class of islanders 1st class city of ch'town. 3rd class the rest of PEI. Lee i wish i pray that every islander outside of your city limits would boycott your city 110% then see how well you stay in a nice lazy job with good pay. Come on islanders hen are we going to stop letting lee put us down lower then scum? Then lee wants your ei to go back to the way it was how do you think of that ? The city has jobs 365 days a year and many islanders do not have those jobs so he is telling you shit on you i demand you live poor but not my city.

    • huh
      April 14, 2014 - 17:50

      Wow. First time ever, I saw an insinuation (look it up Don) that Charlottetown is a wealthy mecca (again, dictionary.com is great) of employment and riches. Look, Clifford Lee is the mayor of Charlottetown, paid and elected to look after that city. So in your view, the removal of the garage and a different standard of EI, should pass by and the mayor should say nothing?? Well he wouldn't be doing his job then. And if he does say something, that must surely be because he thinks everyone else is scum? What utter nonsense. What's sad is that I actually don't think Don is a troll; I sincerely think he believes what he writes. So, as they say, idiots don't know they are idiots.