EI changes cause for concern in rural communities
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.