Women focus of EI demonstrations

Demonstrations are being held across New Brunswick on Friday to outline how recent changes to Employment Insurance will affect women.

International Woman's Day prompts protests

Demonstrations are being held across New Brunswick on Friday to outline how recent changes to Employment Insurance will affect women.

Demonstrators used the fact that today is International Women's Day to get their message across.

One of the protests took place on Friday morning in front of Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe Conservative MP Robert Goguen's office.

About 150 people blocked the street, although Goguen's office was closed.

Elyse Richard, a teacher's assistant, said she barely makes minimum wage for 10 months of the year and needs to go on EI during the summer.

She also said it is hard to look for work in the summer because employers tend to hire students.

"I'm here because we're working 10 months per year because the school term ends in June and I think it's not fair that we have to be penalized for this," said Richard.

Richard said she is scared she will lose her benefits under the new rules.

"Well, [EI] makes sure that I can make my payments, because if I don't have unemployment I won't be able to make my payments and eat," said Richard.

Christa Duguay, who drives a school bus 10 months a year, said that under the new rules, she will have to lie when she applies for a job this summer.

To qualify for EI, she will have to pretend she's looking for full-time work.

"Because we're not allowed to tell them that we're going back to work in September because then they are going to refuse our unemployment," said Duguay.

Lynda Melanson, who works in a fish plant, also showed up to the Moncton protest.

"The government needs to scrap the change and they need to create jobs," said Melanson.

The federal government's reforms will force people who are out of work to expand their job search to accept employment that could be below their skill level, at a wage starting at 70 per cent of their previous wage — providing that is not below the province's minimum wage rate.

Workers could also be forced to accept jobs as far as an hour away from their homes, and they would have to pay their own travel costs.