Assault on Seasonal Industries in C-38

The Harper Conservatives’ proposed changes to Employment Insurance appear to be fundamental and are not discussed in the budget. Rhetoric in the House of Commons by the Conservatives seems to suggest that the system is currently unfair to employers and that there are “repeat users” of employment insurance.  The Harper Conservatives utterly fail to understand the dynamics of seasonal industries.
“The main beneficiaries of the current employment insurance rules are not the workers that Conservative rhetoric seeks to demonize, suggesting that something is wrong with ‘repeat users’, but rather the employers in forestry, fisheries and tourism industries,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands.  “I remember well Frank Dottori when he was CEO of Tembec, expressing the reality that the forestry industry is able to lay off workers for seasonal downturns and know that their workforce will be available to them – trained, willing and able – to work the moment they are needed. The same is true of the fishing industry and tourism.”
“These changes appear to take aim at the seasonal industries and more remote communities where jobs simply do not exist out of season. If the Harper Conservatives wish to shut down seasonal industries, they ought to start by informing the employers rather than targeting the workers,” said May.
Elizabeth May worked in a family-run tourism business on the Cabot Trail from 1974 to 1983. She received unemployment insurance in the off seasons (1975 to 1980) as did other employees of the business. Ms. May’s father always calculated the total tax paid by their seasonal restaurant and gift shop and the tax paid always exceeded, by a good margin, the amount paid out in employment insurance to a staff of 30 seasonal workers.
 “The proposed EI changes must be revised for C-38 to be properly examined,” said Ms. May.