Cullen attacks Harper Government on EI Changes

OTTAWA – Opposition House Leader Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) rose in the House today during Question Period to demand why the government is taking away an insurance program that belongs to workers.

Less than a week ago, the Conservatives outlined proposed changes to EI which would force Canadians to commute up to two hours per day, take a 30% pay cut, and accept ‘suitable employment’ that may be out of their field or risk losing EI access.

“These proposed EI changes are another example of the government saying one thing and doing another. They’re not going to help people connect with jobs. It’s only going to hurt Canadian workers, businesses and communities,” said Cullen.

The changes are also being criticized for targeting seasonal workers.

“Seasonal industries make up a huge part of northern and rural economies, including here in Skeena-Bulkley Valley.”

Fisheries and forestry are key industries for employment in the region and people could not survive without EI.

“My offices regularly receive calls from workers in these industries who tell stories about not being able to feed their families because it’s already impossible to put together enough hours to qualify for EI benefits.  Throwing roadblocks into the mix will put struggling northern communities and economies at further risk.”

Cullen pointed out that there was nothing mentioned in the last federal election campaign about these changes and denounced the government proposing these changes without consultation.

“This is a cynical scheme,” said Cullen. “You can’t expect workers who have paid into EI for years to accept restrictions to getting it when they need it most. And you can’t expect to download the cost to provinces without consulting them.

The NDP’s motion that asks to abandon the EI changes will be the focus of debate tomorrow in Parliament.