POLITICS

EI changes upset northern N.B. residents

07/27/2012 02:05 EDT | Updated 09/26/2012 05:12 EDT
People in northern New Brunswick who receive employment insurance are upset about letters they've received about changes to the program.

They're being warned their benefits will be cut starting next month and they're trying to get their regional minister, Bernard Valcourt to listen to them.

Alma Breau Thibodeau of Paquetville has worked all her life in fish plants, picking blueberries and apples or planting trees.

“I did all kinds of jobs, I started at 15 years old, I got up to go to school and my dad said ‘No, not this morning, got to go to work,’” she said.

Now, at 55, with little education, she says she relies on $600 every two weeks from EI to get by.

She says she fears next month those cheques will be cut by more than a $100.

Breau Thibodeau says she’s angry the federal government never consulted her or others in the region about the cuts.

A pilot project will also have workers keeping a daily diary of their search for work.

She says people in her area are worried they'll lose their homes.

"They can't sleep, they're stressed. I'm stressed."

In St. Quentin, Guillaume Theriault Deschênes organized a petition when the cuts to EI were announced.

“In my region, we are 5,000 persons and I got 2,500 signatures,” Theriault Deschênes said.

St. Quentin is also MP Bernard Valcourt's birthplace.

Theriault Deschênes says Valcourt promised to meet with him to discuss his petition, but he hasn't heard from Valcourt since.