Egmont MP Gail Shea announced Thursday that there are new administrative changes to the way Employment Insurance is handled in this province.
Shea says this change will allow for greater fairness for those who live in the outer lying areas of the province, where job opportunities are more limited than for residents of Charlottetown. While these changes are good news for those who rely on EI to feed their families, and may in the end be the federal government fixing a real mistake, they remain born of partisan politics.
The governing Conservatives say the changes are necessary to bring P.E.I. in line with how EI is administered in other parts of Canada.
Really? EI in some shape or form has existed in Canada since being enacted in the 1940s and in the years since has undergone multiple changes.
Has it really taken us that long to figure out a formula that works? It seems more likely that Thursday's changes are being made to undo the damage done to Shea's electability in the next federal election.
Regardless of how it is spun, last year's EI rule changes have hurt Shea and when the Conservatives realized that the hurt wasn't going away they decided to act.
It would be nice if governments fixed wrongs because they needed fixing, not because it is going to impact on votes in the next election.
These most recent changes mean that beginning in October, P.E.I. will be divided into two EI regions allowing for us to benefit from regional unemployment rates that determine how much, and for how long, a person receives EI benefits. All those unpopular changes announced last year, however, still exist. If you were angry yesterday about having to travel from Tignish to Summerside to make up to 30 per cent less plus pay for a babysitter then you will likely be angry today about still having to do the same thing.
This is a bait and switch - give the people something to think about so they forget why they were mad in the first place.
These new rules are unpopular across the country, not just here in P.E.I.
The requirements to have laid-off workers take jobs previously considered unsuitable, possibly with up to 30 per cent less pay or risk losing EI benefits still exist.
Look carefully before taking the bait.