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Jason Kenney says the number of people leaving P.E.I. has nothing to do with employment insurance.

The federal employment minister was looking for an apology Wednesday from P.E.I. MP Wayne Easter for blaming an increase in the number of people leaving the Island on employment insurance reform.

The province lost about 1,100 people to interprovincial migration in 2012-13, the highest number in about 30 years.  The provincial government says EI reform is a significant factor in the increase, and Easter repeated that claim in the House of Commons Wednesday.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney strongly disputed that theory.

"That demagoguery was complete, unadulterated nonsense, Mr Speaker," Kenney said in response to Easter's comments.

"Not one person has to leave P.E.I. in order to search for available work to qualify for EI. Not one single person."

Kenney went on to say less than one per cent of applicants are denied EI due to the federal government's changes, and employers in the region are using local residents instead of temporary foreign workers.

Most provinces lost citizens to interprovincial migration last year. Only Alberta and Saskatchewan recorded gains.

Corrections

  • Less than one per cent of EI applicants are denied due to recent government changes, not overall, as this story previously reported.
    Nov 28, 2013 1:22 PM AT