EI zone changes should be reversed, report recommends
Changes were implemented by Harper government in 2014
Changes to EI zones made by the former Conservative federal government, including the splitting of P.E.I. into two separate zones, should be reversed, a Commons committee is recommending.
The federal standing committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social development has delivered its report to Parliament on the impact of recent changes to employment insurance.
The committee makes a number of recommendations on the EI system, including that government reverse the 2014 changes to employment insurance economic regions.
The committee said it heard concerns about the impact of the zone changes on P.E.I. and in northern Canada.
In 2014 P.E.I. was split into two separate EI regions for administrative purposes. One region includes the capital area around Charlottetown, and the second region includes the rest of the province.
Benefit levels and the number of hours required to qualify for EI are set independently based on the unemployment rate in each region.
2 workers, same job, different benefits
The report gives a particular example of two Prince Edward Islanders, both working the same plant, but one lives in Charlottetown and the other lives in rural P.E.I. Despite doing the same work, they have different levels of access to EI and a different benefits period.
The report comes as welcome news to P.E.I. Workforce Minister Richard Brown.
"A lot of people suffered under these changes and this recommendation goes a long way in fixing it," said Brown.
He said he would be raising the issue with federal Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk during a conference call next week.
"I will be expressing that we want support of this report and we want the recommendations passed," he said.
Brown is hopeful Ottawa will bring in the recommendation. He said a lot of credit goes to Island groups who worked hard to bring the concerns to the federal government's attention.
Meanwhile, Malpeque MP and the chair of the federal finance committee, Wayne Easter, said he hears a lot of concerns about the two zones.
He said it's an unacceptable situation and he will continue to push for change.
Easter said the recommendation from the Human Resources committee really adds weight to that push.
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With files from Angela Walker