Big changes to employment insurance are coming next year, and that means some Islanders will see their income drop.

The changes affect the number of weeks used to calculate your benefits.

Currently, for people on Prince Edward Island and in other parts of Canada, when you make an EI claim, the benefit you receive is based on how much you earned in your best 14 weeks while you were working.

However, as of April 7, the number of weeks will be based on the unemployment rate in your region.

What that will mean for Islanders, with unemployment the past year at about 11 per cent, the number of weeks would jump to 16 or 17.

That would pull benefits down, especially for those who work 14 weeks or less. Those people would get a zero for every week added to the calculation beyond that.

So, under the current system, if your benefits based on the best 14 weeks were $300, it would drop down to $263 under the new system if you worked just 14 weeks.

If you worked more than that, you could still see your benefits drop, but not as much.

No one on P.E.I. is expected to see their benefits increase under these changes. However, the move will increase benefits in other areas of the country.

The federal government says the new system is more fair because it treats all regions of the country equally, based on the local unemployment rate.

Critics argue that the changes to EI will just create more hardship for Islanders.

The new system will not apply to fishermen on EI or others who are self-employed.