Changes to federal Employment Insurance needed for Leduc region

Residents unable to obtain improved benefit

Following the 2016 federal budget announcement on March 22, Leduc region leaders expressed their disappointment with the exclusion of many municipalities surrounding Edmonton from the improved Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.

Communities excluded from the improved EI benefit within the Leduc region include: Leduc County (Nisku and New Sarepta), Leduc, Beaumont, Calmar, Devon, Thorsby and Warburg. The Leduc region is also home to the Leduc-Nisku industrial business parks, which together, form the largest energy industrial park in Canada and the second largest in North America.

“Nisku and communities in the Leduc region have historically been largely employed by the energy and manufacturing sectors,” said Leduc County Mayor John Whaley. “As a result of the current economic climate, our businesses are struggling and many residents are without work.”

City of Leduc Mayor Greg Krischke echoed Mayor Whaley’s comments: “Just like the rest of the province, a significant amount of our residents are out of work who were previously employed by the oil and gas sector.” He further expressed his concerns with the boundaries of the federal EI economic regions: “If Millet – a community in close proximity to us – is eligible for the new EI benefits, the Leduc region should also be included; we should not be treated differently.”

The Leduc region has been proactive in planning for future economic diversification through joint planning initiatives and regional partnerships, including Alberta Aerotropolis activities that are aimed to further utilize the potential of the region’s access to air, rail and major road networks to create new jobs and attract new employment clusters.

“While we appreciate the need for diversification and exploration of alternative energy sectors for long-term sustainability, we don’t believe it is fair to penalize unemployed workers now,” said Mayor Whaley.

“We hope the federal government revisits their decision and extends the improved EI benefits to workers in our region,” said Krischke.

“These are skilled workers who supported the provincial and federal economy for many years, and now they need support,” said Whaley. “It’s the right thing to do.”

The Government of Canada separates Alberta into four EI Economic Regions, which include Calgary, Edmonton, Northern Alberta and Southern Alberta. The Leduc region is included in the EI Economic Region of Edmonton. According to the federal government, the unemployment rate for the EI Economic Region of Edmonton has increased over the past year from 4.9 per cent to 6.8 per cent.

Eligible EI claimants in Calgary would be able to receive 50 weeks of EI benefits, an extension of five weeks, while those in Edmonton and the surrounding region would not.

This joint release was shared by both Leduc County and the City of Leduc.