Two EI zones unfair to Islanders

February 28, 2014

Dear editor,

The new rules that change how EI is administered in PEI are both arbitrary and unfair.  The federal government has created two EI regions, one for rural areas and one for Charlottetown.  However, the Charlottetown region encompasses rural communities as well.  The regions create a two-tier EI system in Prince Edward Island and the rules that accompany the regions promote inequality.  Those living in the “rural” region will be entitled to higher benefits and benefits that last longer than those living in the Charlottetown region. The government attempts to justify the inequities of the new system by pointing out that Charlottetown has a lower unemployment rate than the rural region – but why should this matter to such an extent?  All working Islanders pay into the EI system at the same rate and should be entitled to the same benefits. The people in the Charlottetown region should receive the same benefit and duration of benefit as the people in the rural region.  And what about people who live in one region but work in another? In this instance, those in the same workplace doing the same job and receiving the same pay, will end up with a different set of EI benefits if they live in different regions.  This hardly seems fair. The Federal Government is micro-managing the EI system. When will the unnecessary tinkering stop?  And is it just a coincidence that the changes help members of Minister Shea’s riding?  The government should be helping all Islanders.         
Deborah Bovyer, President
Union of Public Sector Employees