Nathan Cullen says government is failing to take urgent action.

Nathan Cullen says government is failing to take urgent action.

Federal NDP demands changes to unemployment 

Nathan Cullen says government is failing to take urgent action.

New Democrats recently announced they are moving to hold the Liberal government to account on its promises to make changes to Canada’s employment insurance (EI) system.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen called the current EI program “broken,” saying it isn’t providing the help Canadians need, especially in Northwest B.C.

“In the northwest, weak commodity prices and struggling fishing stocks have taken a devastating toll on key mining operations and fisheries across our region,” said Cullen. “Despite mounting job losses across the country, Liberals have failed to take urgent action to help those who are struggling.”

Low copper and coal prices have put operations at a number of British Columbia mines at risk and some have already been forced to reduce production and employee levels.

“The government must act urgently to ensure benefits are there to help Canadians who have lost their job,” added Cullen.

The NDP motion demands that government reverse Harper’s reforms, create a universal threshold of 360 hours and put a firewall around the EI account so it is never again raided by other governments.

During the 2015 election campaign, the federal Liberals promised that, starting in 2017, they would reduce the waiting period for EI benefits.

“When a worker loses their job and applies for EI, they will only be without income for one week, not two,” said the Liberals. “We will also reverse Stephen Harper’s 2012 EI reforms that force unemployed workers to move away from their communities and take lower-paying jobs.”

The changes made by the previous federal government to the EI system in 2012 include an expectation that claimants accept any job for which they’re qualified, within 100 km of their home, as long as the pay is 70 per cent of their previous salary.

In December, Cullen also called on the Canada Employment Insurance Commission to redraw its economic regions in Northern B.C. to correspond to the economic realities of the northwest.

Cullen noted that the realities for fishermen on the north coast are not at all the same as those facing the oil and gas industry in Northeastern B.C., and the zones should reflect that.