Many people in the northern community of Bay St. Lawrence, N.S. are trying to figure out how they'll survive the winter after the federal government announced it would cut off nearly 200 Employment Insurance claims.
The MP for Sydney-Victoria said residents were told the denial was the result of a Canada Revenue Agency investigation that found claimants were working for family members and not maintaining the required arm's-length relationship between employers and employees.
'There's no jobs here … there's no way to support yourself if you don't have EI.' — Crystal MacKinnon
Eyking said in an interview last week that people in small Cape Breton communities can't avoid working for their relatives.
"People are in shock. They're saying, 'Well, we're not doing anything different. We're not doing anything we think is illegal,'" he told CBC News.
"People are in dire straits up there. Some of them are having to go on welfare."
Crystal MacKinnon has been making a living aboard her uncle's boat for almost 20 years.
The single mom with two small children is also a widow after her husband died of cancer. McKinnon said her EI claim is under review, and with no money coming in, she may have to move.
"You can't survive without EI around here in the winter. There is no tourism, there's no fishing in the winter, there's no way to make money. We have a small store and a small credit union and a community centre," she said.
"There's no jobs here, like there's no way to support yourself if you don't have EI."
MacKinnon said she's not the only one struggling without EI. A lot of people in Bay St. Lawrence have claims that have been denied and they're running out of money.
"It's difficult, like I worry where I am going to find money. How I am I going to feed my children? If I can't feed my children I will have to leave," said MacKinnon. "There has to be some other option that I have to explore. It's very worrisome."
MacKinnon said she has appealed her claim. The federal government will only say its investigation into EI benefits involves some very serious allegations.