Unemployment insurance situation worse, says union rep

  • Aug. 28, 2006 8:00 p.m.

North coast shoreworkers and fishermen say they are facing a hard winter because of EI rules designed for the booming economies of northeastern BC.
In a presentation to the Skeena-Queen Charlotte regional district board last week in Masset, Des Nobels said the situation was bad last year, and it’s even worse this year.
The problem is that the number of hours people are required to work before qualifying to receive employment insurance has increased to 595 hours from the usual 420. The number of qualifying hours is set by the unemployment rate in any given region. Our region includes northeastern BC and Prince George – areas where there is almost no unemployment at the moment. Thus, north coast workers have to accumulate a higher-than-average number of hours before they can receive EI.
Prince Rupert mayor Herb Pond agreed this is a problem, and that the federal government needs to do something about it.
“The north coast for obvious reasons needs to be red-circled and treated differently, not forever,” he said, “but this year, right now.”
Regional district directors voted to write letters to the local MLA and MP, urging them to do whatever they can to bring this issue forward and resolve it. The village of Masset also voted to support the United Fishermen and Allied Workers’ Union in its campaign to reduce the hours needed to qualify for EI on the north coast.