Changes to the Employment Insurance; Negative repercussions for Montrealers

MONTREAL, March 7, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Richard Bergeron, leader of Projet Montreal and mayoral hopeful, is concerned about changes that the federal government has brought to the Employment Insurance (EI) program. Since January 6, the criteria for determining what constitutes suitable employment benefits have changed. As well, there is now a provision forcing those EI recipients who are frequent claimants to accept any job, even if it pays only 70% of the wages paid at their previous employment. The new rules also force claimants to accept employment located up to one hour away from their place of residence, based on transportation at their disposal, as of the seventh week of receiving benefits.

Richard Bergeron, seconded by François William Croteau, mayor of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, will file a motion at Montreal city council requesting that the federal government suspend its Employment Insurance reform until it evaluates the real economic impacts. The new measures have been in place since January 6, 2013, "Some 48% of workers in the Montreal area are part-time employees. I am calling upon the federal government to stop until we know what the impact will be of such changes on workers in Montreal and on the economy of our city," said Richard Bergeron.

Several key sectors of the Montreal economy will undoubtedly be impacted by this EI reform, including tourism, hotels, the cinema industry, construction and education. With this motion, Projet Montreal wants the city council to clearly position itself in defense of citizens at risk and show that it is aware of the economic vitality of Montreal. "What are the effects on the families of workers who may be forced to take a job up to 100 kilometres from their home? Will this reform push entire families off of Montreal Island? Because nobody has answers to these questions, the many unknown effects of this reform should have been analyzed before their implementation," said Mayor Croteau.

These changes to Employment Insurance are all the more incomprehensible because the federal government no longer contributes financially to EI; since 1990 it has been fully funded by workers and their employers. "The unemployment rate in Montreal--at 10%--is also the second highest rate in Quebec after the Gaspésie. In addition, we now suspect negative impacts from these changes to EI on women, youth and immigrants, segments where job security is often precarious. I ask the city council to support my motion requesting that the federal government suspend this EI reform until its impacts have been properly assessed," said Richard Bergeron.

To view the motion that will be presented by Project Montreal at the March 18 council meeting:


For further information:

Catherine Maurice
Attachée de presse for the 2nd opposition
514 872-3153 / 514 601-5542

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