AMHERST – Changes to Canada’s employment insurance system is something Scott Armstrong hears a lot about from his constituents.
As he prepares to head back to Ottawa to for the next session of the House of Commons, the Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley MP said he’s trying to reach out to as many people as possible to expose some of the myths generated about the changes.
“The problem we face is the regulations just came into effect last Monday,” Armstrong said Monday after speaking to members of the Amherst Rotary Club. “The fact is to lose your EI claim will only happen if you choose not to go to work if work that suits you is there. The vast number of EI claimants, including seasonal workers, are not going to see any changes.”
Armstrong, who is hosting a public town hall-style meeting in Northport on Wednesday night, said the changes are designed to bring accountability and integrity to the system.
Government he said is often criticized for subsidizing people who don’t want to work, and while there are thousands of unemployed Canadians many businesses find they have no other choice but to bring in foreign workers.
He wants to ensure that every job available is first offered to Canadians before temporary foreign workers are brought in.
“Canada is really doing better than many other countries in the G-7 or G-8. We have 93 per cent of our workforce working, but we still need to do a better job,” Armstrong said. “We need to make sure we are as productive as possible.”
Armstrong said changes to EI are not intended to be punitive and claimants will not be forced to take jobs that pay less than their claim or ensure personal or financial hardship.
“In some circumstances EI has become a disincentive to work,” Armstrong said. “Ideally it’s better for people to be working, but you won’t be forced to take a job where you’ll make less money than your current EI claim or take a job where things like child-care and transportation costs will make you worse off than you would be on EI. The only time you’ll be forced to take a job is if you’ll be better off in the long run.”
Armstrong said personal circumstances will be considered, however, he said claimants will be asked to accountable by documenting how they make themselves available.
“In reality, very few people in the system are going to see any changes,” Armstrong said.