Editor: I was disappointed by Minister Gail Shea’s recent letter on Employment Insurance. It was quite disingenuous of the minister to frame the recent Conservative changes to EI as righting some historic wrong. If Minister Shea and her government were really interested in justice for workers in P.E.I. and across Canada, why is access to EI at an all-time low?
If the Conservatives were interested in what was best for seasonal industries, they wouldn’t have killed the five extra weeks pilot project. They did this even though the government’s own evaluation concluded the program was working to fill the income gap for seasonal workers. If they actually respected workers, the Conservatives would not have followed in the Liberals’ footsteps and taken money from the EI account —money that was paid by workers and employers to provide protection to the unemployed. But they did. Combined, the Liberals and the Conservatives have stolen $57 billion from the EI account.
Now the minister wants Islanders to believe that she’s a champion of seasonal workers? It’s just not credible. Gail Shea is playing politics, instead of working to make the system work for all unemployed Canadians. Also, the minister doesn’t seem to realize that there are seasonal workers in and around Charlottetown — why are these workers being discriminated against? And why should we believe that the Conservatives won’t take more money from the EI fund to balance the budget? They have done it before; there is nothing to stop them from doing it again.
The NDP has been very clear: we want to fix EI so that it is there for workers when they need it. We have committed to rolling back the Conservative reforms and reinstating the five extra weeks. That will help seasonal workers. The NDP is the only party that has committed to ensuring the EI fund is protected and independent from general government revenue.
Robert Chisholm, M.P.,
Deputy EI Critic for the NDP