West Prince Chamber of Commerce backs EI changes

TC • Media Staff Comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on March 21, 2014

This census map shows the boundaries of a new Charlottetown EI region. Critics of new EI rules announced Thursday say those who live within this area will be eligible for less money and will have to work more hours to qualify for employment insurance. 

ALBERTON — The West Prince Chamber of Commerce is throwing its support behind the recent changes made to the Employment Insurance program.

“These changes ensure the Employment Insurance program is fairer to Islanders and better reflects Prince Edward Island’s local economy,” said Paul Arsenault, president of the West Prince Chamber of Commerce.

Egmont MP and Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced Feb. 20 that changes would be coming to the Employment Insurance Act in October with the recognition of two distinct employment regions in P.E.I.

The two regions, the capital region and the rest of P.E.I., will better reflect the fact that job opportunities for Islanders differs significantly between Charlottetown and rural areas of the province, Arsenault added.

“With rural P.E.I. having a higher unemployment rate of 14 per cent compared to that of Charlottetown at eight per cent, a seasonal economy and a private business sector with 70 per cent of the businesses having less than three employees and a lack of public transportation, the non urban areas are at a disadvantage facing many barriers to full-time, year round employment,” said Natasha Dunn, West Prince Chamber of Commerce board member.

“This will assist our local residents in not falling short of income before they return to work where they may have had to rely on income support through social services to make ends meet.”

Arsenault said this is not a new concept.

Since 1996, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have each had three separate regions. In every province, capital cities are considered a separate region.

“This new change will reflect what has been happening all across Canada for the last 18 years and corrects that flaw in the system, ensuring that rural Islanders and many seasonal workers will receive appropriate benefits,” said Arsenault.