EI reforms cost P.E.I. $20-million, Ghiz says

Teresa Wright
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Premier Robert Ghiz speaks to reporters. Guardian file photo.

Premier Robert Ghiz says the Harper government’s controversial employment insurance reforms have removed $20 million from Prince Edward Island’s economy.

That’s one of the details included in a long-awaited panel report on the EI changes commissioned a year ago by Atlantic Canada’s four premiers.

The premiers were briefed on a draft of the report earlier this week, and although they will not yet release the recommendations, Ghiz told The Guardian Tuesday it will include financial impact analyses done by the provinces.

“We know that within the province, our estimation is that $20 million was taken out of our economy,” Ghiz said.

“We believe this has a very negative impact, especially on those people drawing EI (who) are not high income earners in our province, so therefore we look at it as really picking on the vulnerable.”

But he was quick to point out the $20-million figure is an estimation of the financial impact of the changes, and that it is still an exercise of ‘making presumptions.’

That’s because the report will not contain actual data on how the EI changes have affected the Atlantic provinces.

Ghiz says it’s still too early for that kind of data.

“The impact was not analyzed yet because we need to wait for the results,” he said.

“It will be continuous work that will still have to be done after this, because really the effects of the EI changes are going to be seen this year and in the next year, because the changes just took place.”

The changes targeted frequent users and put greater emphasis on claimants looking for and accepting available work, even if it is up to 30 per cent less than their previous salary and upwards of 100 kilometres from their home.

The feds also ended a pilot project that extended EI benefits by five weeks to some seasonal workers that helped them retain an income while waiting for their seasonal job to resume.

Ghiz has long argued P.E.I.’s seasonal economy must be treated differently than other provinces with industries like big oil or manufacturing plants that help supply year-round employment.

Don Cudmore, executive director of the P.E.I. Tourism Industry Association, says the EI changes together with a recent moratorium on temporary foreign workers in the food services sector are having major impacts to local businesses and their employees.

“The industry is starting to think that this particular federal government has no respect for the industry, no respect for the operators themselves,” Cudmore said.

The fact the changes were made without consultation is a major sticking point, he added.

“The problem with what they did with EI and with temporary foreign workers – they’re changing it as they go, and you can’t operate a business that way,” Cudmore said.

“It’s pretty disheartening for those working hard in our industry to make a living.”

Ghiz said to expect a censure of Ottawa’s unilateral EI changes to be a key recommendation of Atlantic panel’s EI report.

“The report recognizes perhaps this was rushed through a little bit too quickly and that more work still needs to be done.”

The Atlantic premiers, and Ghiz in particular, have been pushing back against the EI reforms for the last year, never missing an opportunity to ask for them to be reversed, so far to no avail.

Ghiz said he does not expect the panel report will have any greater effect, except as another tool to use in arguing against the changes.

That’s why he aims to make it an election issue in 2015.

“I will be looking to other political parties, and really to be honest with you it doesn’t matter which political party to me, as long as they recognize that these changes are having a negative impact on my province,” Ghiz said.

“I’ll be looking for them to put that in their platforms.”




Organizations: P.E.I. Tourism Industry Association

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Canada, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • UN mandates 12% protected area
    May 28, 2014 - 17:58

    Nova Scotia and other Canadian provinces (except PEI) are protecting 12% of their landmass in accordance with United Nations recommendations. PEI needs to get with the program and do the same. Buffer 100 metres off all fresh water and coastlines - protect all that land. Then start looking at protecting forest land. Then you can start banking agricultural land.

  • Observer from the East
    May 28, 2014 - 13:46

    Easy lads. You know that all these politicians are just trying their best to look after us. Right?

  • Quiet Observer
    May 28, 2014 - 11:56

    I see Garth has been busy. Anyway, has anyone else ever noticed the similarities between the Ghiz Liberals and the harper Tory's? They are both arrogant governments that have no concern for lower - middle income earners and take great joy out of cutting benefits to them and taxing them to death at the same time. At least we have a shot of getting rid of harper at the next federal election. problem is, islanders will continue to vote blindly for the same party they have always voted for and we will probably be stuck with Ghiz and his crew to pillage us again. C'mon Islanders - look at your financial situation now as compared to where you were when Ghiz came to office. Are you better off or worse off? You know the answer to that. Vote accordingly.

  • So true
    May 28, 2014 - 11:24

    This Makes Me Mad - Truer words were never spoken about the taxes imposed on us by provincial government. Feel the exact same way as you.

  • Belly Up
    May 28, 2014 - 11:09

    Belly up to the Ottawa trough, boys. That's all these PEI politicians ever seem to do. If it's not McKinley complaining that some other Atlantic province got more pie than him, it's Ghiz complaining that he's losing his bailout package. Try governing the province for a change.

  • Fed up
    May 28, 2014 - 10:48

    That's it Ghiz...PASS THE BUCK AGAIN!! Bring in more immigrants so more of is have to leave our families and go west to find work! Just go in ANY fast food restaurant and count the Phillipinos...compare them to PEI workers...then go home and see who you can blame for THAT!!!!

  • Seriously?
    May 28, 2014 - 10:46

    Is Ghiz seriously suggesting that EI is a part of this province's "economy"? He's basically admitting that PEI can't function as a province without permanent handouts from Ottawa, and that he has no clue of how to change that. And if locals won't work, let businesses hire foreign workers.

  • J
    May 28, 2014 - 10:42

    The PEI government shouldn't be relying on EI for money in the first place, they should be finding work projects for people rather than free money.

  • Dave
    May 28, 2014 - 10:31

    $20 000 000??????? OK, let's assume MAX EI for 30 weeks..............in order to reach that $20 000 000 number, 15000 Islanders would have to be denied. Ridiculous. Why not claim $20 Billion.

  • randolf
    May 28, 2014 - 10:24

    God save us from this government gone mad. The Premier can only spout about getting more emigrant, - why they did not fill their 460 person quota as it is, --- just something to spout about in desperation of not running a proper government, with some intelligent decisions and plans, - fly by the pants is all this government knows, - you just have to wonder what we are paying these deputy ministers $ 150.000 a year for, let alone the Ministers and MLAs ? Time to clean out the whole political crony mess we are suffering with. Bring on the election, Mr. Premier, anything is better than what we have, anything--

  • Stupid,stupid,stupid
    May 28, 2014 - 10:19

    More propaganda from Ghiz, but sadly as they sat there on CTV last night, there is not a leader in the bunch, -- need more immigrants,-- to do what???? Collect EI?? Ghiz and his gang is full of baloney, - not a word can be trusted, --- and now they are going to set up a real estate company to buy liberal land from liberal farmers no doubt, so they can retire effortless in comfort, while the taxpayers pay top dollar for the acreage. Some vote buying -patronage scheme if there ever was one . Let's have public meetings on this hair brained idea. The opposition should invite to these meetings so the taxpayers can get a chance to speak out. -

    May 28, 2014 - 09:56

    Before you blame all Islanders for the mismanagement of this Provincial Government. all people that live on the Island are not sitting back and lazy. A small percentage as in ALL the other provinces. There are many many people here that are desperate to find employment, the problem is they cannot get hired as Island businesses prefer immigrant workers ( no benefits, low pay, and will do whatever they are told to do just to stay in Canada) There has been a presedence set here that is spreading across this country. Greedy business people who will not pay decent wages nor do they have to as they have the premier no less fighting to get them cheaper labour from outside the country. People want work but cannot fight against political influence and greed to keep them out of the workplace.

  • Angus
    May 28, 2014 - 09:55

    Why don't the premier and Mr. Sheridan explain how they had been gaming the system for years in order to ensure that as many as possible went on federal EI as opposed to provincial welfare. The real story is that the Feds changed the rules to make sure EI works the way it should and not as a way for Maritime politicians to let people sit on their arses while collecting pogey all for the sake of their votes.

  • This Makes Me Mad
    May 28, 2014 - 08:45

    Reading this article just makes me boil with rage . Excuses is all that Ghiz ever spouts out . Blaming Ottawa for his own miss management of our tax dollar . Answer this one for me - When I do my income tax each year , I make so little that Ottawa doesn't tax me but for some reason Ghiz feels that it's enough, that he wants a share of it to spend on his mistakes . The rage I feel at tax time at this provincial government is more than I can express . Go Harper Go , you are doing good & not cow towing to this rip off government of ours .

    May 28, 2014 - 08:30

    How much does incompetence cost PEI? More than 20 million I bet.

  • don
    May 28, 2014 - 08:05

    ghiz how dare you blame all this on the feds. you and wes has screwed islanders from the 1st day you got elected, gas tax's,hst, and other tax's and for what ? so you can help the rich liberals on PEI. you and wes are a disgrace to all islanders in canada. if you had any pride you would admit wes screwed up and fire him plus fire yourself. and stop the patronage even though you promised no patronage. lies and to cover up the 1st lie you tell another lie. Don Cudmore are you one of the masters who wants tfw over islanders all you are is a slave master like the rest. shame on you all. and i hope islanders boycott all business that hires tfw over canadians. and ghiz wants more tfw so he is wanting to push islanders off island so he has more control. talk about slavery. this gang is top in that bracket.

  • No one
    May 28, 2014 - 07:48

    No one believes a word that comes out of Ghiz or Sheridan's mouths.

    • And yet
      May 28, 2014 - 10:51

      And yet they will get re-elected next time around.

  • Non-Islander
    May 28, 2014 - 07:30

    Isn't that great!! That's $20 million in federal welfare that the rest of the country hasn't had to send to people willing to sit on their butts for most of the year. The smart ones have actually taken action and moved to where the jobs are, which was the over riding goal of some of the EI changes to start with. The lazy ones are still sitting around the island and moaning about their lot in life. Yay for the smart ones. Let the lazy ones starve as far as I'm concerned.

    • Ha
      May 28, 2014 - 10:31

      Once again, the no-nothing's and the uninformed think they know about it all and of course their opinions are correct...then again, opinions are like armpits, every body got a couple and they stink from time to time

  • unique
    May 28, 2014 - 07:05

    once again wasting time Ghiz.... As permier of PEI you should be fighting against the amount of migrant workers coming into the province and lowering the unemployment rates, not fighting to make it easier to get EI with better benefits. How many Mexicans are working on farms like Vanco in Mt. Albion or Dale Hickox farm in Vernon River? How many Chinese in Georgetown working at the fish plant? I would be embarrassed to fight for such a poor cause. One day Ghiz wants more immigrants/migrants in the province yet wants better EI for the folks already here that can't find a job? Federal conservatives are doing a great job, at least they're trying to get Canadians working instead of laying around abusing the system. The people on EI should be made work at locations like these listed, no exceptions. If you have no job, are drawing EI and the job is available locally then take the job or go to the welfare line because you are going to need an application. By not taking these jobs you are showing just how lazy you really are.

  • EI
    May 28, 2014 - 06:55

    Some of these employers hire students .who will not need EI . For those that only time they can get employment during the summer it going to get worse .EI requores 2100 now instead of 823 before the new rules . So more individuals will be on social programs when the cant get there hours and job market is tough 8 months of the year . Since when did Ghizz worry abput the Islands vunerable ? There no employment enhancement or programs for the vunerable to overcome adversity and to be subject to degradation from social programs societal abuse . That is where addictions and mental health problems begin poverty and vunerable . It just a circle .people cant even get the money up to move or go to another province once they get on the poverty train . People get broken down.physically and mentally on this cycle . Single persons get less , but if they helped to work get education .they are highest taxed if they are built up to long term employment opportunities .

  • Curious
    May 28, 2014 - 06:48

    What did HST cost us as taxpayers? Who implemented that? Looks like islanders took it on the chin in the last year or so....

  • Billy
    May 28, 2014 - 06:39

    How many jobs did this government create over the same period and how much money was received from Ottawa during the same period. 20 million could easily be saved by eliminating provincial jobs at hospitals, liquor stores, access pei and other agencies that could easily be privatized, like other provinces are doing.

    • Get Real
      May 28, 2014 - 11:00

      Privatizing costs more! The companies that are awarded the contracts reap the benefits. The people who work for them are paid very little. That is absolutely not the solution as other provinces have discovered. Privatizing is a way to "reward" companies that support political parties.

  • Garth Staples
    May 28, 2014 - 06:30

    The Premier is full of verbiage and rhetoric today pulling millions out of some very thin air. Perhaps his Minister of Finance's statements are rubbing off on him. God forbid.

  • oranges
    May 28, 2014 - 06:29

    How can anyone believe this Governments estimation on how much was removed from the Island thru EI. This is the same bunch that promised a balanced budget for the past 4 years and have never come close to balancing the budget. No Mr.Ghiz it is your failed policies that have failed this Provinces. Time to step aside and let someone else take the leadership role.

  • Figures Don't Lie And Liars Don't Figure
    May 28, 2014 - 06:05

    NEWSFLASH…… Premier awakened to the 25% of Population who are to poor to drive to free 2014 Celebrations, cannot afford gas or food and out of work….based on figures, Ghiz never noticed?

  • Pei
    May 28, 2014 - 05:36

    Ghiz your government is so bad at numbers nobody should believe you!!!!!!

    • Belfast Guy
      May 28, 2014 - 09:14

      To publicy say that EI changes cost the PEI Govt $20m is absolute hogwash and totally irresponsible. The fact is that people have gone west to work and many are paying off homes here on PEI, many, as well, leave the family here while they work in camps, thereby further contributing to the economy of PEI.