New Brunswick MPs must take their responsibilities

FREDERICTON (February 1, 2013):A Coalition of regional community-base committees is challenging New Brunswick conservative MPs to organize public meetings to explain the EI reform to the thousands of New Brunswickers affected by the latest cuts.

“Federal Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Diane Finley and the New Brunswick conservative MPs are pretending that “these changes are in the best interest of workers, employers and our communities”. Today, we are asking them to explain to New Brunswickers how they will benefit from those changes,” said Patrick Colford from the Miramichi regional Committee.

“New Brunswick MPs have been in the media accusing the regional committees fighting against these EI cuts of giving false information and fear mongering. Today, we are asking them to take their responsibilities and to organize their own public meetings throughout the province.  We are also asking the federal government to publish a public document which would explain, in clear language, what will be the impacts of these changes on workers and their communities,” said Colford.

The Coalition of regional committees is asking the Federal Government to sit down with labour and employers, those who are funding the EI Program, to discuss changes that will really benefit workers, businesses and our communities.

“It is astounding that such sweeping changes were made, through an Omnibus Budget Bill (C-38) without any consultations,” added Pauline Richard from the Kent North regional Committee.

“It is obvious that the Federal Government and our federal MPs are out of touch with our reality. The reality of New Brunswick job market is that the province lost 7,600 full-time and part-time jobs since 2008. The reality of the job market is that between January 2012 and October 2012, there was a monthly average of 35,720 unemployed workers in the province. In the same period, there was a monthly average of 3,830 job vacancies. In order words, for each 1,000 unemployed worker, there were around 10 jobs available. The situation is worse in the winter months. The reality of the job market is that part of our economy is rural and work is seasonal. The real problem is the lack of available jobs and not workers,” added Richard.

“This EI Reform will not only hurt New Brunswick workers and their families but will also have a negative impact on the province’s finances.  According to the Department of Finance, a 10% reduction in EI beneficiaries would result in a loss of 800 jobs by 2016 and a $100 million to the province.”

“These cuts will have a profound and lasting negative impact on workers, their communities and the province,” concluded Pauline Richard.

There are active committees in the following regions:

  • Acadian Peninsula
  • Kent South
  • Kent North
  • Fredericton
  • Miramichi
  • Edmundston
  • St. Stephen
  • Sussex
  • Campbellton
  • Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe
  • Bathurst
  • Saint John

Here are some of the major cuts that have been implemented:

  • Reducing salary by up to 30% of former salary which will result in lower wage and lower future EI revenue.
  • Cutting the Five Weeks Extension Benefits Pilot Project which will result in workers receiving no income for a period of time in Spring commonly referred to as the Black Hole.
  • Modifying the Best 14 Weeks Pilot Project which will reduce EI revenue, especially in the Edmundston-Charlotte area.
  • Implementing a new Working while on Claim Pilot Project (ends August 1, 2015) that will penalize workers who can only get one or two days of work when on EI.
  • Eliminating completely the EI Appeal Board of Referee.