10/04/2012 10:32 EDT | Updated 12/04/2012 05:12 EST

EI changes creating difficulty for employers

Residents of rural Prince Edward Island are expecting Employment Insurance changes will have a negative impact on their communities, a legislative committee heard Wednesday night.

The fisheries, transportation and rural development committee is holding hearings across the Island on Ottawa's amendments to EI, which change how the government claws back the employment earnings of people on EI. The new rules remove a cap on allowable earnings, but they also begin taking back money on the first dollar earned.

A representative of the aquaculture industry told the committee, meeting in Cymbria, the new rules are taking away incentives for people to work part-time while on EI benefits. The committee also heard fears that the changes put downward pressure on wages and will trigger the use of more temporary foreign workers.

Committee chair and Evangeline-Miscouche MLA Sonny Gallant said some employers are now having trouble finding part-time staff.

"They've already lost a couple of staff for fear that if they're going to get cut off their EI they better go look for other work," said Gallant.

"In particular one case, a lady went to work for less money than she was making at her previous employer, but it was guaranteed hours each week."

The fisheries, transportation and rural affairs committee will hold one more public session, Oct. 10 in Souris.

For mobile device users:Will the recent changes to Employment Insurance improve life in rural P.E.I.?