This is not about whining

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Workers, employers and labour groups have pressed the point that recent changes to EI rules are impractical for the region. It’s hard to imagine the federal government will listen any more closely to East Coast political leaders on the issue.

At a meeting Monday in Nova Scotia, the four Atlantic premiers called on the federal government to suspend the changes. The concern – like those voiced by many of the region’s business owners – is that so much of the work available is seasonal.

Let’s not hold our breath for agreement to reconsider. The federal government has made it plain it is entrenched in the new rules, and individual Conservative MPs have gone to lengths to convince Atlantic Canadians they are better off.

People don’t want to sound like a bunch of whiners. In most instances, those who need employment income are happy to have a job, happy to work for their money, as opposed to counting on EI.

If the federal Human Resources department is concerned about cheats, by all means, do whatever it takes to detect them. But we need to be realistic about circumstances.

At play here is the thin population, small towns separated by great distances, and public transit only available on main highways, or in the handful of cities.

Proving you are actively seeking work is one thing. But being forced to accept a job within 100 kilometres of home for pay of at least 70 per cent of previous salary raises some obvious difficulties.

It’s not just workers complaining. Employers in the more outlying areas have warned the rules will send people away and they’ll never be able to find qualified workers.

Fortunately the Atlantic premiers represent the three main parties, meaning less likelihood of branding this a partisan gripe.

The premiers are quite right in their plea that research is essential. The region already has towns perilously close to ghost town status. This will only hurry that up. Surely the feds recognize such an outcome defeats the purpose.

Organizations: Conservative MPs, Human Resources department

Geographic location: East Coast, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • something
    May 14, 2013 - 10:54

    peter mackay doesn't care about jobs in nova scotia, because jobs in alberta are more "profitable". you will never see a real federal attempt to allow job growth in nova scotia as long as there is a growing demand for workers in the tar sands

  • Raymond W
    May 06, 2013 - 18:12

    As much as I have feelings for those who income for the year tends to be made in about four months out of the year and then the jobs in the area disappear, I have also to say, I had to uproot my family and move to where I could get a job. I could have gone to E.I. or welfare and let someone else pay the bills for me even though I was able bodied enough myself to do it. However, it is not my way, when I am able to let someone else work to provide for my family and I. Many who can, should consider applying for jobs else where and be prepared to take them. I know from personal experience it is not an easy decision to make and not one one wants to have to make. However, tax payers can only foot so much of the bill to support people who only have to work a few months out of the year and then receive a check for the rest of the year. I have less feeling for those who collect a check without work for most of the year after only working a few months and who make more in that time, then many on minimum pay, make in a year. Everywhere one looks there is someone asking the tax payers to provide, whether people or business. Some reason has to be used. Some will have to move perhaps while others will have to continue to be supported, even by those making only minimum wages. It is certainly a question that cannot be answered from emotion.

    • exbluenoser
      May 08, 2013 - 09:04

      Don,t you think if people keep leaving the Maritimes for work, there will be no one left but pensioners. I think it,s about time the government starts looking at putting industry in all the province, not just the big cities. We came to AB because there was no work in northern NS. that was 11 yrs ago and it,s not getting any better. Anyone who wants to put business in is taxed to death.My son works from May to Oct. and without EI, he couldn,t make it. and I don,t think everyone should be forced to move away from their families.

  • mike spears
    May 01, 2013 - 07:42

    Watchdog Herr harper will not let him speak,harper doesn't like to be criticized as he hasn't grown up yet!

  • watchdog
    April 30, 2013 - 08:39

    Peter MacKay the defence Minister representing this riding with a high percentage of seasonal workers and industries dependent upon them is not saying a word. Why would he remain silent and foresake so many of the people he is supposed to represent.

    • JLM
      May 01, 2013 - 15:51

      Watchdog - how do you know he's not saying a word? Yes, maybe not saying in public, but if you disagree with your boss, do you hold a press conference to air your differences in public? How much good would he do the region if he was relegated to the back benches because he spoke out?