Edmonton Is The Only Alberta Jurisdiction To Miss Out On New EI Benefits

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Tuesday's federal budget introduced changes to employment insurance (EI) that will help all Albertans — except people from Edmonton.

The changes make it easier for unemployed workers to claim EI, and extend the period during which they can receive benefits.

They apply everywhere — except the provincial capital, where residents will have to obtain EI just like they did before, Global News reported.

Edmonton Mayor frustrated by exclusion

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the changes target people who need EI most, but the exclusion still has Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson concerned.

“I can surmise that it has something to do with the fact that our employment numbers are a little bit better than the rest of the province,” The Edmonton Journal reported him saying.

“I will want to get confirmation that if our numbers shift, if the economy deteriorates, that we will become eligible.”

Edmonton unemployment rate below provincial average

Edmonton’s unemployment rate was 6.8 per cent in February — lower than Calgary’s at 8.5 per cent, and below the provincial average of 7.9 per cent.

Edmonton MP Amarjeet Sohi said the city has been left out because it simply hasn't been hit as hard by the slump in oil prices as the rest of the province — but things could change if the capital’s economy worsens, 630 CHED radio reported.

“We will continue to monitor this,” Sohi said. “If the situation changes, if Edmonton sees the layoffs to the extent that other regions have, we will revisit this plan.”

Notley 'disappointed' by federal government's decision

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told CBC News that she’s disappointed at Edmonton’s exclusion and said she plans to look at what it takes to qualify for EI with the changes in place.

“We will keep a sharp eye on the state of job losses in Edmonton and we will continue to push very aggressively for changes if the situation worsens,” she said.

Parts of Saskatchewan also omitted

The EI changes affect 12 regions across Canada where unemployment rate increased by two per cent or more over the past year.

The benefits will also omit parts of Saskatchewan that have been hit hard by the downturn in oil.

"That’s a first concern that we’ll want to raise, that they’ve missed a big part of Saskatchewan’s oilpatch in this particular initiative,” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said.

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