Recent comments made by the federal minister responsible for Prince Edward Island were very disappointing and insensitive to the many Islanders who have faced the difficult decision to leave home and try to find work elsewhere.
After hearing of the Statistics Canada numbers, which confirmed that 1,100 Islanders packed up and left in 2012-13 (the greatest loss in the last 30 years), Minister Shea commented that more people were leaving in order to make a better life for their families.
None of the Islanders I’ve talked to would come anywhere near agreeing with this statement.
More Islanders are not leaving in search of a better life. There is no better life in the world than here on the Island. Most people I talk to do not agree that leaving the Island, packing up their families or being separated from them for months at a time is something they do out of choice in search of a better life. It is something they do out of necessity.
More Islanders are leaving because they are being forced to leave by a federal government that has all but forgotten the eastern end of this country. It’s not just the EI changes which have hit our seasonal industries and workers so hard here on the Island. It’s also the massive cutbacks and closures of federal jobs and services which have hit the Island so disproportionately – for instance the severe cuts and job losses at DVA, and the loss of the EI Claims Processing Centre and the Addictions Research Centre in Montague.
Not only will our communities and seasonal industries be hurt with these cutbacks and new EI policies, but Island businesses and their employees are suffering as well. Every sector of the P.E.I. economy is feeling the effects of this Conservative government. McInnis Cooper estimated an economic loss of $50-60 million to our province due to Conservative cuts.
Rather than job creation, the Conservative government has only brought unfair job destruction to our shores.
Thousands of Islanders are leaving, not in search of a better life, as Minister Shea says, but because they are being forced to leave by the actions of the minister’s Conservative government.
Member of Parliament for Cardigan