CHARLOTTETOWN -- The leader of the New Democratic Party of Prince Edward Island says Prince Edward Island’s regional minister in the federal cabinet has provided him with another reason why a basic income guarantee would be good for all Canadians.
Mike Redmond compared Fisheries Minister Gail Shea’s announcement that P.E.I. would be split into two Employment Insurance zones to an act of political manipulation.
The change, which is scheduled to take affect in October, would place the capital region, which includes Charlottetown and a swath of communities stretching to the North Shore, in one EI region and the rest of Prince Edward Island in another.
In making the announcement, Shea said it will bring fairness to rural Islanders including seasonal workers.
“We need an EI program that’s fair to all Canadians; fair to people no matter where they live, fair based on the opportunity to find a job and on the economic conditions,” Shea commented during her announcement.
The announcement has been received well in Shea’s Egmont riding where there are many seasonal workers, but it has been vilified among seasonal workers living in the capital region who could require more weeks of employment to qualify for benefits and see their benefits reduced.
“The only way to stabilize the workforce in our seasonal economy is a basic income guarantee,” said Redmond who indicated he has been advocating that Prince Edward Island serve as the pilot project location for the basic income guarantee since reading a July 2013 Canadian Medical Association report - What Makes Us Sick. “It is a measure just as important to business people as it is to workers.”
Redmond noted the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. has expressed concerns about the negative on its seasonal workers.
“Usually we think of the positive benefits of a healthier, happier and more economically productive population when we consider the arguments in favour of a basic income guarantee. Gail Shea has just given us another good reason. Guaranteeing everybody a livable income would weaken the ability of politicians to manipulate people by such actions,” Redmond argued.
Redmond said an NDP led government would advance the basic income guarantee locally and nationally. “Once it is established no government minister could ever divide and manipulate people as severely as Gail Shea has just done,” Redmond asserted.