Letters to the Editor

Monday, 18 June 2012

Liberals concerned for seasonal workers in NB

FREDERICTON – Opposition Labour critic Chris Collins (photo left) is worried about the ramifications of Bill C-38, passed in parliament after a marathon session in Ottawa late last week.

Bill C-38 includes reforms to the Employment Insurance program that could have a devastating impact on New Brunswick’s seasonal industries.

The Opposition Liberals urged the Alward government throughout the legislative session to discuss the issue with the Prime Minister on issues that matter to New Brunswickers – including EI reform.

Collins, Moncton East MLA Chris Collins and critic for Post-Secondary Education, Training, and Labour is disappointed that Premier Alward refused to speak out against Harper during the EI debate. “Other premiers spoke out. But our premier has showed time and again he is reluctant to stand up to the Conservatives in Ottawa.”

Collins notes that it isn’t just traditional industries that will be affected by EI reform. Workers in the fisheries, agriculture, and forestry sectors are immediately thought of when reforms are discussed. Several other workers will be affected, however. “Think about teachers without full-time positions, TA’s, bus drivers, or any other staff in the school system. If they don’t have contracts, they don’t get paid in the summer. EI reform will hurt them too.”

Collins also notes how difficult EI reform will be on tourism in the province. “Yes, we have winter tourism, and have worked to grow that industry. But people mainly travel in spring, summer, and fall. It is difficult for workers living in tourist destinations to find alternate work in the downtime.”

Collins’ first concern is for seasonal workers. Like others, however, he knows these changes will negatively affect business owners as well. “First, the government will ask employees to drive an hour to find work in their down time. With the high price of gas, that has a cost,  and that’s if people have reliable transportation in the first place. Eventually they are going to move. We will be lucky if they stay in the province, but they are more likely to head West.”

With an out-migration of seasonal workers, businesses will struggle to survive. The Opposition Liberals worry that businesses in the province will close shop if the workers aren’t available.