300 protest EI changes at Saint-Quentin, N.B. rally
A group of about 300 people showed up to protest federal changes to the Employment Insurance program in Saint-Quentin, N.B. on Sunday.
Many of the protestors have been seasonal workers their entire lives. They say they're upset that they were not consulted beforehand.
The changes to the system include requiring workers who routinely go on EI to accept any suitable job to qualify for benefits. Suitable jobs may include taking a pay cut or having to travel more than an hour away for work.
Politicians throughout the Maritimes, including P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz, have expressed concern over the changes since they were outlined in May.
Sebastien Duke, a boiler maker, said the changes will not allow him to make a decent wage.
"I've been looking for little jobs for two years around the Bathurst area and I can't find something decent pay. Like 70 per cent of my salary is around 48 bucks an hour. So there's no job," he said.
Organizer Alma Breau Thibodeau said it's hard enough to find work required under the current rules.
"Last year, I had to go on four jobs in order to get my 14 weeks done and now I'm still missing seven weeks," she said.
ACOA Minister Bernard Valcourt did not attend the rally. Rally organizer Guillaume Deschenes Theriault wasn't surprised.
"Mr.Valcourt, if he thinks this reform is so good, he should be here to explain why this reform is good for us. Because I don't see what is good in that," he said.
The demonstrators say they'll continue to protest until the government understands the new rules won't work.