EI changes cause for con­cern in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties

The Southern Gazette - - NEWS -

While trav­el­ling Ran­dom-Bur­inSt. Ge­orge’s this sum­mer, MP Judy Foote’s con­stituents have ex­pressed their con­cern with the Em­ploy­ment In­sur­ance (EI) Pro­gram changes the Harper gov­ern­ment is now im­ple­ment­ing.

“The peo­ple I rep­re­sent tell me they are ex­tremely con­cerned that Stephen Harper has launched a tar­geted at­tack on sea­sonal in­dus­tries in par­tic­u­lar and the peo­ple who work in them. Many be­lieve it is an at­tack on New­found­land and Labrador in par­tic­u­lar be­cause of the num­ber of sea­sonal in­dus­tries in our prov­ince.”

Mrs. Foote noted many New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans are sea­sonal work­ers but not by choice. She pointed to sea­sonal in­dus­tries, not just fish­ing and tourism, but in mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties where peo­ple are hired on a sea­sonal ba­sis.

“The Harper gov­ern­ment’s new EI reg­u­la­tions, which will force sea­sonal work­ers to ac­cept jobs in any field that pays 70 per cent of their salaries af­ter look­ing un­suc­cess­fully for work for six weeks, con­firms for peo­ple the Harper gov­ern­ment has no idea of the value of sea­sonal in­dus­tries, and the peo­ple who work in them, to the econ­omy.”

The MP said her con­stituents in­formed her they can­not af­ford to sup­port their fam­i­lies mak­ing 70 per cent of their pre­vi­ous salary.

“They are wor­ried be­ing forced to ac­cept a job that will make it im­pos­si­ble for them to pay their bills, they will have no choice but to leave their com­mu­ni­ties, which de­pend on sea­sonal in­dus­tries to sus­tain the econ­omy in the community.

“If they can’t find a per­ma­nent full time job quickly in their area, they tell me they will be forced to move leav­ing be­hind their fam­i­lies, which isn’t good for any fam­ily. If the de­ci­sion is to move the en­tire fam­ily, they are forced to leave their home in which so much has been in­vested over the years.”

She claimed the changes to the EI pro­gram ig­nores the fact sea­sonal work­ers are ei­ther trained in the in­dus­tries in which they work or have years of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in that in­dus­try. Forc­ing them to take low pay­ing jobs in an en­vi­ron­ment in which they have never worked, and don’t have the skill set re­quired, is an in­sult to hard work­ing in­di­vid­u­als who, for years, have made a con­tri­bu­tion in their com­mu­ni­ties.

“If hav­ing peo­ple ac­cess a pro­gram to which they have con­trib­uted over the years is un­ac­cept­able to Stephen Harper, why won’t the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment con­cen­trate on help­ing cre­ate more jobs to sup­port those who work in sea­sonal in­dus­tries in­stead of forc­ing them to re­lo­cate or ac­cept jobs that won’t pay them enough to make ends meet?”

Mrs. Foote added em­ploy­ees aren’t the only ones who are con­cerned about the changes, em­ploy­ers tell her they are wor­ried what will hap­pen to their com­pa­nies when all of their em­ploy­ees are forced to move.

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