Alberta is looking to Ottawa, and the rest of the country, for help during their current economic woes.
The slump in the oil sector has hit the province hard. EI claims have doubled in the past year alone, from 30,300 claimants in November 2014 to 61,300 before the close of 2015.
In response to the crisis, Justin Trudeau announced that Ottawa is prepared to provide up to $1-billion to Alberta in the form of a “fiscal lifeline” and fast-tracked infrastructure funding. He also indicated that the government is committed to making changes to EI.
The Conservative’s Interim Leader Rona Ambrose has recommended that the province’s low unemployment over the last number of years has resulted in EI coverage that is more restrictive than in other parts of the country.
Workers in some parts of Alberta must work over 600 hours in order to qualify for up to 38 weeks of EI benefits, while somebody in the Maritimes needs to rack up only 420 hours to access up to 45 weeks.
Should the federal government loosen the restrictions in Alberta to help down-and-out oil sands workers? Do we need to extend their EI coverage? If these unemployed workers aren’t confident that they’ll obtain a job in the province before the year is up, isn’t that an indication that they should look for work in other parts of the country?
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