Easter critical of EI change

Eric McCarthy
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MONTREAL -- Business people who drove to Mill River Thursday to hear Fisheries Minister Gail Shea’s announcement about an Employment Insurance administrative change should charge the minister for mileage, Malpeque MP Wayne Easter suggested in a phone interview from Montreal. 

Wayne Easter

Easter called Shea’s announcement, that Prince Edward Island will be divided into two economic regions for calculating EI eligibility and benefits “ridiculous.” He questioned how a federal minister responsible for P.E.I. could advocate such a change.

“This splits the Island in two,” he said. “It is just unbelievable. I know her own riding is covered off, but the rest of the Island is split all over the place.”

While Shea maintains rural Islanders will see improved EI benefits because of unemployment statistics that no longer include the capital region, Easter says the change treats seasonal workers differently based on where they live.

“If you were a fisherman, say, fishing in Morell and living in Stratford, then you’d be treated differently than a fisherman who is living in Morell and fishing out of there,” he stressed.

“If you were an individual living in Clyde River, 100 feet away from a house in Cornwall, and the two of you worked in the tourism industry in New Glasgow then you’d both be treated substantially differently,” he continued. “This is ridiculous.”

Easter said the announcement is little more than an admission that the EI system is not working. “The problem is the fix they have imposed is not a fix at all. It doesn’t deal with wait times; it doesn’t deal with clawbacks, and it basically makes a mockery of the seasonal industries and seasonal workers in Prince Edward Island.”

He suggested a better fix would have been to put some of the $5 billion EI surplus towards reinstating the EI pilot project, where benefits were extended five weeks, and make it permanent.


Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Morell, Stratford Clyde River Cornwall New Glasgow

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Recent comments

  • what would you expect
    February 20, 2014 - 23:04

    Wayne Easter was part of the government that brought in this unfair system so you would expect he would defend it, he didn't think rural PEI was worth sticking up for then and doesn't now. Also he should know the EI rate does not affect fishing benefits so for a fisher it doesn't matter where you live, it does matter however if you are a rural worker and the current system is very unfair to people in the eastern and western parts of the island. Finally a woman with courage does what this spineless puppet could never do, speak the truth and work for equity.

  • Al
    February 20, 2014 - 20:57

    Liberals get in they will put that 5 billion Easter is talking about in so everyone can go on ei all the time .forget working for a living

  • wow
    February 20, 2014 - 20:54

    great job gail you fool

  • TheTruth
    February 20, 2014 - 19:27

    How can you take ANYTHING wayne easter says as serious. This is coming from a guy that got caught double dipping and claiming expenses $8,050.26 in public funds after incorrectly claiming expenses on a secondary residence between August 2007 and July 2010. Don't throw stones in a glass house Mister Easter.