Editor: It is hard to believe the recent decision to change the boundaries for employment insurance in P.E.I. could be anything other than a crass political move to try and save the one Conservative seat on P.E.I.
They can try and justify it any way they want, but the truth is we now have a two-tier system. It would be bad enough if even one group benefits without harming the other, but now we have a situation where one group of Islanders will reap a reward to the detriment of another.
I am sure people will remember the changes that have already been made are still in place. The EI police are still on the hunt. A person is still required to drive one hour for a job that pays 70 per cent of what was their usual pay. People are still being criminalized for using an insurance plan that they pay for.
The contributions made by employers and workers are being paid to build an insurance fund. What we have now is a system where any surplus does not work to the advantage of the insured person, but works to the benefit of government. Any surplus in any given year goes right into general revenue, and the surplus is very large.
Last year the surplus reached $3.6 billion, and in the first three months of this year government collected $6.5 billion and paid out $4.2 billion. Some economists are projecting a $9.2-billion surplus on top of the $3.6 billion. Who do you believe is helping to balance the federal budget before the next election? Is building surpluses the real goal of this government?
If the government was serious about helping Islanders, they would reverse the decisions they have made and allow people to live a life with some degree of comfort and stability. Returning the system to its original form, including the five-week benefit extension program, is the only thing that would be fair.
President, Egmont NDP Riding Association