A report completed for premiers in Atlantic Canada released last week says changes made by the federal government to the Employment Insurance program have caused fear and confusion among claimants.
The panel report says plenty of distress could have been avoided if Ottawa had made an effort to talk to the provinces before the rules were tightened.
The most confusion, the report says, surrounded the requirement targeting commuting times — that is, workers collecting EI would have to accept work in different communities if criteria were met.
These changes were clearly aimed at workers in the Atlantic region where seasonal jobs are a way of life.
The federal Conservatives have never understood this part of the country and how many of us get by under difficult circumstances. Many workers here are involved in the tourism industry and similar seasonal industries.
Those in Ottawa don’t seem to get that most of us in rural parts of Atlantic Canada just can’t drive a few minutes down the road and pick up another job when we need to.
Communities in this part of the country are far from each other and jobs of any kind are at a premium.
Impact on businesses would be another side of this issue.
If too many of these seasonal workers pack up and move west, a slew of businesses will be left without staff to keep their operations running during prime season.
Many businesses in low-paying industries are already having trouble getting workers and that situation will get worse when changes to the temporary foreign worker program start to take full effect. The report done for the premiers suggests more consultation before rules are changed in the future, but that isn’t likely to happen.
Conservatives in Ottawa have always done things to suit their own politician agenda, and to hell with the consequences on ordinary Canadians. This is just another in a long line of cases.