Labour Minister Danny Soucy is proposing a motion that would ask the legislature to formally ask the federal government suspend its Employment Insurance reforms.
Earlier this week, the four Atlantic premiers called for a suspension of the EI changes, saying there should be further study of the federal program's new rules because they adversely affect the region's seasonal-based economy.
Soucy outlined his motion on Thursday.
"I rise today to inform the members that our government will be tabling a motion urging the federal government to immediately suspend the changes to the Employment Insurance program pending the completion of an evidence-based approach that will ensure our long-standing economic drivers in the resource sectors, employing thousands of people and supporting generations of families, will continue to have the support and assistance to thrive from the Government of Canada," Soucy said.
The Opposition Liberals have been hammering away at the Alward government over Employment Insurance reforms, accusing the premier of waiting too long to challenge his fellow Conservatives in Ottawa.
Liberal MLA Victor Boudreau said on Thursday Soucy's statement showed "the light has finally come on" for the Alward government.
Liberal Leader Brian Gallant accused Premier David Alward of stalling on the EI issue on Wednesday.
"So where was the premier? Where was the premier Mr. Speaker on the 24th of May when these changes were announced?"
The Liberals are accusing Alward of not wanting to criticize the federal Conservatives on the issue. However, within days of the changes being announced, Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud had said he was skeptical.
"Sometimes the cookie-cutter approach, the one-size-fits-all created by Ottawa, doesn't fit in the New Brunswick reality," Robichaud had said.
Still, the stance of the Alward government on the issue appears tougher lately, possibly due, in part, to the party's third-place finish in the recent Kent byelection, solidly won by Gallant.
A recent Corporate Research Associates poll also found 62 per cent of New Brunswickers oppose the EI reforms.
A series of protests have also been held across the province.
Even Alward, who refused in December to sign a joint letter with the Liberals protesting the federal changes, seemed to acknowledge on Wednesday that his thinking on the issue has evolved.
"What's really important is we have come to realize that the federal government didn't do their homework," he said.
The Atlantic premiers, after two days of meetings in Hunts Point, N.S., argued the changes were made despite a lack of consultation and without regard for the effects on Atlantic Canada's seasonal-based economy.
The federal government has said it won't suspend the reforms, regardless of the demands.
Under the new rules, which took effect on Jan. 6, those who frequently claim EI need to do more to prove they're actively seeking work.
Repeat claimants may also have to accept jobs that could pay 30 per cent less than their normal wages and be located an hour's drive from home away.
New Brunswick, which has a lot of seasonal industries, is traditionally one of the most heavily dependent provinces on the EI program.
In the past year, there was an average of 35,019 EI clients each month, with the number reaching as high as 45,830.