Hundreds gather in Moncton to protest EI changes
Published Friday, January 4, 2013 6:55PM AST
About 400 people braved the frigid temperatures in Moncton Friday to protest upcoming changes to Employment Insurance.
Many protesters travelled from rural New Brunswick and gathered at the office of Conservative MP Robert Goguen to demand the federal government stop changes some say will tear their families apart.
The changes, which target repeat EI users who must prove they have conducted a reasonable search for employment, come into effect Jan. 6.
“If there were jobs in our community that was close and good, OK, some of us would go to work, but to drive a half an hour to 45 minutes to town,” says seasonal worker Eva Martin.
Linda Melanson works at a lobster plant in St. Anne. She is worried the changes will force her to move for work.
“It’s not my fault it’s a seasonal job. It’s not our fault, that’s where we live,” she says. “I don’t want to move out. I’m here. I love where we live.”
New Brunswick NDP Leader Dominic Cardy and provincial Liberal Leader Brian Gallant attended today’s rally, with Gallant promising action from his party.
“We’ve signed a letter, the Liberal Party, the 13 MLAs signed a letter asking Stephen Harper to change the changes,” says Gallant. “We’ve asked the other Conservative MLAs to sign as well. They have yet to do it. It’s our hope they still will.”
Organizers say the next step is to send an open letter to Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, inviting her to come to New Brunswick and meet with the people who would be directly affected by the proposed changes.
“If you’re going to help us, come and talk to the committee about how you’re to implement rules, not impose with a hammer and sickle,” says Michel Richard of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union.
Finley has said the government will use common sense when deciding who qualifies for EI.
However, that was little comfort to those who attended today’s rally and say the changes to the program display little common sense.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jonathan MacInnis