Nova Scotia

Rallies held in Cape Breton to protest EI job cuts

People concerned about cutbacks to the federal government's employment insurance processing and call centres rallied in Cape Breton Saturday.
Two rallies were held in Cape Breton Saturday to protest cuts to come to EI processing and call centres. (Dave Shaw)

People concerned about cutbacks to the federal government's employment insurance processing and call centres rallied in Cape Breton Saturday.

A gathering in Glace Bay was designed to draw attention to the closure of the town's EI call centre.

Another in Sydney was to protest layoffs at the EI processing centre.

Saturday's rallies were aimed at sending a strong message to Diane Finley, minister for Human Resources and Skills Development, according to a recent news release.

"The vast majority of Canadians did not give the federal government a mandate to cut the services and jobs we depend on," Jeannie Baldwin, regional executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said in the release.

It was announced by Service Canada in August that about 60 positions will be cut at the Glace Bay call centre and 40 in Sydney.

Local union president Mike Duhamel said the Sydney layoffs will leave nothing more than a skeleton staff.

He said the closure and cutbacks would have a high cost.

"Well you're looking at approximately $6 million in annual revenue to be taken out of Cape Breton and that's not including the spouses of the people who are losing their jobs if they have to leave the island."

Duhamel said there's already enough unemployment in Cape Breton.

On top of adding more job losses, he said the cuts would take away the people who help the unemployed deal with the EI system.