'My town is dying’ - Souris mayor

Steve Sharratt comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 21, 2014
Souris Mayor David MacDonald speaks to the Atlantic Premier's Council meeting on EI changes held in Montague Monday.
Guardian photo by Steve Sharratt

MONTAGUE — The federal government is being blamed for the “murder” of a P.E.I. town by a mayor who says his community is dying because of changes to employment insurance benefits.

“My town is dying,’’ said Mayor David MacDonald. “And I blame the federal government for murdering my community.”

MacDonald was addressing the Premiers’ Council on EI changes being held Monday at the Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre here. The panel is gathering information on the impact employment insurance changes have had since being implemented almost two years ago.

“If I’m not mistaken, the employer and employee pay into this system,’’ said MacDonald.

“So if I buy insurance and have a claim to make I make it to the company . . . but in this system we have a great god called the federal government that decides whether you get any back, if at all, and they didn’t pay five cents.”

The retired school teacher received a round of applause when he told the panel, chaired by Ian MacPherson, the severe cuts to EI will lead to mental health and justice issues which are under the auspices of the province.

“I think this strange system (of EI eligibility) is the heart and soul of the matter. It’s hard enough in today’s society for parents to raise kids, doubly hard for a mother to raise the kids when dad has to go to Fort Mac.”

MacDonald said the federal government is penalizing Islanders and people who live in seasonal economies and the toll is being paid by the province.