Impact analysis hammers home EI losses for city

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Urban zone to lose $14 million per year while P.E.I. rural areas gain $15 million

There are two things to remember when discussing implications of the planned cleaving of this province into rural and urban EI zones this October. Firstly, on a yearly basis, the unemployed in the Charlottetown urban zone will receive $14 million less in payments, while the unemployed in the rural zones in western and eastern P.E.I. will get an additional $15 million in benefits. 

Secondly, despite Ottawa’s attempts to take credit for the extra million overall to the province and the huge additional benefits to rural areas, it is not costing the federal government a dime. The money is coming out of the pockets of employers and employees who pay into the EI program each and every paycheque.

The impact analysis statement published last week in the Canada Gazette has made Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee even angrier. Mayor Lee is fuming when he sees that $14 million less is coming to his city and surrounding region. He calls it blatant patronage and an attempt by federal cabinet minister Gail Shea to bring something to her Egmont district.

Until now, we were unsure what the two zones would mean in dollars and cents. Now we know. While Mayor Lee rails and makes accusations that Minister Shea is robbing his city to pay more EI benefits into her riding, he must remember that all is not lost. Some, if not a lot, of that extra $15 million being paid to EI recipients in the rural zone will filter into his city because where else can a large segment of the province’s population see a movie, shop for big ticket items and dine out. And the list goes on.

We can sympathize with Mayor Lee’s argument. He feels for the people on EI in his city and region who will lose money. Ms. Shea argues that the changes simply level the playing field because rural Islanders, for years, were at a disadvantage for jobs and opportunities.

Comments on social media are suggesting, tongue-in-cheek, that some urban zone dwellers are going to move a kilometre down the road to reside in the rural zone and benefit from more EI payments. Maybe Ottawa’s claims the EI zones reflect the difference in economic conditions between the capital area of Charlottetown and the non-urban areas of P.E.I. may help stem the flood of rural Islanders moving to the capital region. Or not.

Organizations: Canada Gazette

Geographic location: Eastern P.E.I., Charlottetown, Ottawa

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  • jason
    April 20, 2014 - 09:45

    what i don't understand is when my dad is 73 and still working and needs whatever it is in charlottetown to claim i think its like 1000 hours or something like that.....but a person that works with my father in the same building but lives in mrs shea's district only needs 520 hours to draw....this is ludicrous......and i hope mrs. Shea does not get re elected and she will know what its like to be on ei....

  • townie22
    April 18, 2014 - 08:40

    of course this is a blatant attempt to get re-elected by the Minister, according to HRDC, Summerside is also an Urban District (over 10,000), but they are exempt. does this mean the unemployed in Summerside will be forced to drive to the booming city of Charlottetown for a minimum wage job? according to new rules it is under an hours drive, and recipients can be forced to, or risk being cut off. by the way, don't bother, even the chain restaurants and big box stores are swamped with applications. to those complaing about people on EI, your premiums won't go down anyway, the Federal Government is just using the surplus to pay down the deficit, even though it specifically says on your pay stub EI Premium.