On P.E.I. in 2014, the federal Conservative government divided employment insurance into two distinct zones. The boundary line defining EI zone 2 (Charlottetown) arbitrarily, is a line not based on sound economic reasoning but is in fact a boundary line based on an outdated population census map published in the 1970s.
Dividing P.E.I. into two EI zones has allowed, through the manipulation of employment statistics, an artificial lowering of the unemployment rate within Charlottetown and P.E.I.’s zone 2 employment insurance region.
Employee's living within EI zone 2 are being prejudicially discriminated against when filing an EI claim. In order to activate a claim, an employee living inside zone 2 has to work up to an additional 200 insurable hours or 40 hours per week for five weeks longer than an employee living within EI zone 1.
Changes to the EI program on P.E.I. have resulted in a huge increase in mental illness due to the added financial anxiety experienced by minimum-waged, seasonal employees living in and around Charlottetown.
The federal Liberal government should be held to account for a promise made in the last federal election to revert back to one provincial EI zone - reuniting urban and rural seasonal workers under a single employment insurance system.
Electoral candidates running in Charlottetown’s municipal elections should be raising this vitally important issue concerning seasonal workers getting equitable access to the EI fund.