Atlantic provinces examine changes to employment insurance

Panel will review changes over summer, consultations to take place September

The Atlantic provinces are conducting a regional consultation and research initiative to jointly review the impact of the federal government’s recent changes to the employment insurance (EI) program.

“The EI system has a significant impact on ensuring a stable workforce, which is an important part of our ability to grow the economy and attract new jobs to Atlantic Canada,” said Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, chair of the Council of Atlantic Premiers. “It’s vital we have a full understanding of the implications the reforms are having on workers, employers and communities.”

The Atlantic Premiers’ Panel on Impacts of Changes to Employment Insurance is comprised of a representative from each Atlantic province. The panel will work throughout the summer to analyze impacts of the changes in preparation for consultations in September.

A final report by the Atlantic Premiers’ Panel is anticipated in October.

Members of the panel are Danny Cavanagh, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Nova Scotia; Iris Petten, chair of Memorial University’s Board of Regents; Ian MacPherson, executive director of the Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association; and Pierre-Marcel Desjardins, economist and professor at Université de Moncton. Mr. Desjardins will serve as chairperson of the panel.

Panel members were selected from labour, business and academic sectors based on their extensive experience, community involvement and understanding of the Atlantic economy, labour market and industries.

Premiers established the Atlantic Premiers’ Panel on Impacts of Changes to Employment Insurance to obtain a more complete understanding of the federal government’s unilateral changes to the national program, which is funded by employers and employees. The federal government’s decision to implement major changes was carried out without essential research and consultation, according to the group. Atlantic premiers have called upon the federal government to share relevant employment insurance data.

“Access to EI data held by the federal government is critical to the success of this initiative,” said Premier Dexter. “We would like to move forward in co-operation with the federal government and to work together to make sure Atlantic Canadians are getting the employment supports they need.”

The report will provide a detailed analysis of the impacts of the EI reforms, including economic forecasts and the effects on workers, communities, and businesses, in particular seasonal industries. The final report will also include recommendations on next steps.

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