04/16/2013 01:36 EDT | Updated 06/16/2013 05:12 EDT

New Brunswick premier blames federal EI reforms for Tory loss in byelection

WINNIPEG - New Brunswick Premier David Alward is blaming the federal government's changes to Employment Insurance for his party's last place showing in the byelection in the eastern riding of Kent.

"The issue that was raised time and time again were people's concerns about EI," Alward said Tuesday from Winnipeg, where he met with Manitoba's premier.

"That's why we're working to see the federal government make changes to their decisions, especially related to seasonal workers and our seasonal industries."

New regulations mean that recipients of the program will face stricter, more complex rules for keeping their EI benefits.

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant easily won the byelection Monday, taking about 59 per cent of the ballots cast. NDP candidate Susan Levi-Peters finished second, ahead of Jimmy Bourque who ran for the Progressive Conservatives.

When the byelection was called, Alward characterized it as an opportunity for voters to have their say on how the previous Liberal government handled the Atcon issue.

The Miramichi-based fabrication company went bankrupt despite millions of dollars in loan guarantees from the government of then-premier Shawn Graham.

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