As P.E.I. prepares to be split into two employment insurance regions in October, it is not clear who fits into which part of the map.
Donald Doiron of Mayfield is one of many Islanders whose position became unclear this week as questions arose about how the new map should be read.
Doiron is a seasonal worker and draws employment insurance every year. Under the current system, with P.E.I. all one region, where he lives on the Island does not much matter. But that will change Oct. 12. On that day the Island will be split into two regions, P.E.I. and Charlottetown. People living in the Charlottetown region will get fewer weeks of EI benefits for the hours they work, and will have to work more hours to qualify at all.
The split is meant to reflect the higher unemployment rate in rural areas. Doiron's community of Mayfield, south of Cavendish, is decidedly rural. But according to Statistics Canada it is part of greater Charlottetown. The map of the two new EI regions issued by Employment and Social Development shows Mayfield clearly inside the orange area defining Charlottetown.
"If I just picked up this map I would think that I would fall under Charlottetown," said Doiron.
But that may not be the case. While Doiron's house is inside the Charlottetown region, his postal code is for Hunter River. That town is part of the P.E.I. region.
Annette Ryan, a director of EI policy for Employment and Social Development, would not speak specifically to Doiron's case, but did say postal codes are what the government uses to determine a claimant's EI region.
"In cases where the postal code overlaps two regions they are placed in the region with the higher unemployment rate," said Ryan.
If that's the case, it would seem Doiron would be considered part of the P.E.I. region, meaning he would have to work fewer hours to get EI benefits, and more weeks of benefits for those hours worked.
"Hopefully it will all get straightened out between now and the fall," he said.
Ryan said while there could be some postal code exceptions, most Islanders drawing EI should plan to be assessed by where their house sits on the map.
For mobile device users: Will splitting P.E.I. into two employment insurance regions make the system more fair?