EI report 'step in the right direction' says Premier Ghiz
Ghiz expected to walk Minister Jason Kenney through fish plant to address EI concerns
Premier Robert Ghiz says a year-long examination of Ottawa's Employment Insurance changes by the Atlantic premiers was a step in the right direction, despite some key information still missing from the study.
The report, released Monday, was meant to document the premier’s concerns about changes on this region's seasonal economy.
The study was launched a year ago, and was meant to build an argument against the EI changes that the premiers could then take to Ottawa.
But some argue the worst fears over the changes have yet to be proven.
The report said without detailed statistical analysis of the EI claimant data, it's not able to provide a detailed examination of actual effects. It said that work should be done in future.
"It’s too early yet to tell exactly what the damage will be on our economy,” said Ghiz.
“We know in P.E.I. that its going to be about a $20 million hit to our local economy here."
It was Ian MacPherson, the executive director of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, who held hearings on the Island last winter to hear directly from EI claimants.
"I think there is some good core data there and what the premiers do with that i guess we will see,” said MacPherson.
He said issues like out-migration should be debated.
Ghiz will have a chance to address his concerns to Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney who will be on the Island for a meeting of labour ministers next week.
He said one of the concerns he will discuss with Kenney is the fish plants that are threatening to close because they can't find enough Island workers, saying they need temporary foreign workers to fill the void.
"Talk to different people working in the fish plant, go talk to someone who is on EI and find out why they’re not working in a fish plant,” said Ghiz. “I think you'll discover that the answer is not black and white.”
Ghiz said he will be walking Kenney through a fish plant when they meet next week.