The federal budget announced by the Liberal government today extends employment insurance benefits for Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northern Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Canadians who live in these economically-challenged jurisdictions will be able to claim employment insurance for 50 weeks, which is an increase of five weeks over the existing program.
This comes as the unemployment rate in the province soared to 7.4% earlier this year. But there is a caveat in the policy: Residents who live in Edmonton are not able to claim the extended benefits, and it likely has to do with the city’s better-performing economy.
Edmonton’s unemployment rate is 6.5%. Contrast that to Calgary’s rate of 7.7% and the national average of 7.2%.
“I’m pleased that the Prime Minister responded to my calls to make immediate changes to EI,” said Premier Rachel Notley in a statement. “This will help struggling Alberta families and unemployed workers right away. The five extra weeks of EI benefits will be a big help to Albertans who are unemployed, as will the extra 20 weeks for long-tenured employees, as well as the reduced waiting period from two weeks to one.”
“While we’re disappointed that Edmonton is not included in the changes, we will keep a sharp eye on the state of job loss in Edmonton and we will continue to push for changes, should the situation worsen.”