Îles-de-la-Madeleine is forming a coalition to meet with Human Resources Minister Diane Finley to protest recent changes to Employment Insurance.
The coalition includes groups from Quebec's Gaspé and Bay St. Lawrence areas, as well as northern New Brunswick. P.E.I. has also been asked to participate.
Recent reform to EI makes it more difficult for seasonal workers to collect. That prompted a massive protest in Îles-de-la-Madeleine last week. Four thousand people marched on the Service Canada office in Cap-Aux-Meules, a third of the islands' population.
The economy of the tiny Gulf of St. Lawrence archipelago is heavily dependent on seasonal jobs. Three thousand fisheries and tourism workers are currently collecting benefits. But one of Îles-de-la-Madeleine's mayors, Joel Arseneau, said the up to five-week extension that's kept benefits going until March or April has been cancelled. In a few weeks benefits for those 3,000 workers will stop.
Arseneau said there are no jobs to be had, with only three to five listings currently on help wanted sites. He is bracing for the worst economic crisis he's ever seen.
Arseneau said the unprecendented rally didn't get the attention of government. He's hoping a face-to-face meeting will. The group has asked to meet with the federal minister in Ottawa late February.