If even a small percentage of Prince Edward Islanders on Employment Insurance turn to social assistance it could have a big impact on provincial finances, says Community Services Minister Valerie Docherty.
Docherty made her comments in concern over how changes to federal EI regulations could cut some Islanders off from benefits. She worries some will then have no choice but to turn to the province for social assistance.
"It is really going to potentially have a significant impact on my department. If I got two per cent of those people coming … you know we think we have an issue in health? We'd have a major issue in my department," said Docherty.
"We are there to assist Islanders and we will never — anyone who qualifies — we would never turn them away, but in this fiscal situation it's going to be quite an impact."
Docherty said government officials are monitoring the trends: when people's EI claims end, and how many claims are being denied.
She said with PEI's seasonal economy it can be hard to find employment in January and February.