ALBERTON -- The West Prince Chamber of Commerce issued a statement Tuesday indicating its support for the Employment Insurance changes announced for P.E.I. last month by Egmont MP and Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea.
The changes, which take effect in October, create two distinct Employment Insurance regions for P.E.I., one for the capital region and one for the rest of P.E.I.
“These changes ensure the Employment Insurance program is fairer to Islanders and better reflects Prince Edward Island`s local economy,” assessed West Prince Chamber of Commerce president, Paul Arsenault. He suggested the two regions will better reflect the fact that job opportunities for Islanders differ significantly between Charlottetown and non-urban areas of P.E.I.
“With rural PEI having a higher unemployment rate of 14 per cent compared to that of Charlottetown at eight per cent, a seasonal economy and a private business sector with 70 per cent of the businesses having less than three employees and a lack of public transportation, the non urban areas are at a disadvantage facing many barriers to full time, year round employment,” offered Natasha Dunn, WPCC board member.
Dunn suggested having a separate region “will assist our local residents in not falling short of income before they return to work where they may have had to rely on Income Support through Social Services to make ends meet.”
Noting that all other capital regions in Canada are already separate EI regions, Arsenault said the change will “reflect what has been happening all across Canada for the last 18 years and corrects that flaw in the system, ensuring that rural Islanders and many seasonal workers will receive appropriate benefits.”