The government is finally providing some details on the Employment Insurance reforms they're proposing. It doesn't look good:
The rules will split EI recipients into three categories based on how often they’ve claimed EI in the past. Frequent users would be given just six weeks of EI to look for work in a similar occupation before they will be expected to take “any work” available, provided it pays at least 70 per cent of what their last job paid.The Chronicle Herald has a breakdown of the three categories.
The government claims that these changes are not an attack on seasonal workers, though it seems most people here in Atlantic Canada aren't buying it. The thing is, seasonal workers are going to fall into that "frequent users" category, and being forced to accept any available job within an hour's commute and at a possible 30% pay cut, it sure sounds like an attack to me.
That hour commute is nothing to sneeze at, either. Winter is the off-season, and we get a lot of snow out here. A commute like that could be deadly. One of my co-workers was killed this past winter on her way to work. No job is worthy that, and especially not one that pays 30% less than one's last job.
The government continues to repeat the line that these changes are necessary to address labour shortages:
Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley said the changes are necessary because hundreds of thousands of Canadians remain unemployed despite a skilled labour shortage that is “hindering our ability to prosper as a country.”OH FOR THE LOVE OF COD WOULD YOU SAY WHERE THE LABOUR SHORTAGES ARE, ALREADY?! I keep hearing that there are industries that are hurting for workers, and I'm hoping to go back to school to get the skills I need to maybe fill one of those jobs, if I can ever figure out what skills they're looking for.
This is going to impact everyone because what we want to do is make sure that the McDonald’s of the world aren’t having to bring in temporary foreign workers to do jobs that Canadians who are on EI have the skills to do,” she said.Oh.
Some small-business owners are also welcoming the changes, though others are skeptical. On one hand, these businesses will now have plenty of EI-claimants applying for and accepting jobs because they'll lose their benefits if they don't, and those applicants won't be in a position to demand a higher wage. On the other hand, this could lead to a higher turnover rate for those businesses as soon as fishing or farming season rolls around again. Plus, those people will likely jump ship as soon as a better offer comes around; this is why some places won't hire people they believe are "over-qualified", a complaint I've heard many job-seekers make. Or maybe an employee will simply switch to another low-skilled, low paying job. This, I believe, is the reason why the call centre I'm about to be fired from had such a hard time getting and keeping workers. What's the point in staying at a job you hate when you can get another job you might hate a little less, and for the same pay?
But hey, maybe people in Nova Scotia will be able to find jobs related to the $25 billion shipbuilding contract the Irving Shiphard in Halifax was awarded earlier this year. Oh, wait. Nevermind. **facepalm**
Image credit: The Chronicle Herald