News Release Archive

  Following is a statement given today by Premier John Savage
  on changes to Unemployment Insurance announced by the
  federal government:
  "I want to say at the outset that we are not here today to
  try and explain the ins and outs of the reform to Canada's
  unemployment insurance system. The proposed changes in Mr.
  Axworthy's bill are extremely complex. It will be several
  days until we are aware of the ramifications of the
  I would suggest that for a full explanation of the bill,
  you'll have to rely on representatives of the federal
  government for answers.
  However, I did think that it was important to provide you
  with at least our preliminary reading of the UI changes.
  There is little doubt that the UI changes will have a
  negative impact on some Nova Scotians. It was also mean a
  loss to the provincial economy.
  We are not in a position this afternoon to tell you what the
  overall dollar impact will be. We only started receiving the
  detailed information earlier this afternoon and we have not
  had time to assess the complete picture.
  We do know that there is money being taken out of the system
  in the form of UI payments. We also know that there will be
  money pumped back into the system through new employment
  What the difference is in terms of actual dollars we don't
  yet know. The impact of the changes will likely be more
  severe in the first couple of years because it will take
  time to put the new employment programs in place.
  However, it's been suggested that at the end of five years,
  the net impact of all the changes will end up meaning a
  seven per cent reduction in the money spent on benefits and
  employment programs.
  In the case of Nova Scotia, that's a net loss of $54 million
  at the end of five years. But again, all of our numbers are
  preliminary and best guesses.
  There are both negative and positive aspects to today's
  announcement in Ottawa.
  For new entrants to the UI system, there will be higher
  entrance requirements. However, there are also built-in
  features to eliminate disincentives and there's a move
  towards additional employment programs.
  I do want to address the issue of special significance to
  this government.....the seasonal worker.
  There is little doubt that a new so-called intensity rule
  aimed at repeat users of UI will impact on seasonal workers.
  In Nova Scotia, as many as 53,000 claimants will be
  This government, along with our colleagues in the rest of
  Atlantic Canada, made the issue of our seasonal workers a
  high priority. We made it very clear that the unique
  seasonal nature of a large part of our workforce required
  special attention from the federal government.
  We are able to report significant success. The plan
  introduced in Ottawa today includes a method of calculating
  benefits that will reduce the impact on seasonal workers in
  high unemployment areas such as the Atlantic provinces. In
  other words, many seasonal workers in this region will be
  treated quite differently than elsewhere in Canada.
  This was a major concession by the federal government. It
  was only achieved as the result of a lot of pressure being
  exerted by provincial and federal politicians across this
  Part of the reason we pushed so hard was that in the last
  round of changes to the UI system, this region suffered
  disproportionately to the rest of the country.
  As I mentioned a few moments ago, we have been told that all
  regions of the country can expect a maximum net loss of
  about seven per cent when cuts to UI are offset by new
  employment programs.
  Had we not convinced the federal government to make special
  allowances for the seasonal nature of our workforce, this
  region would have suffered a net loss of between 18 and 20
  per cent.
  I want to make a few other points about the changes
  announced this afternoon.
  - The switch from weeks worked to hours worked will have a
  positive impact on part-time workers.
  - The program will provide a supplement to assist low-income
  families. This is a first step in addressing the issue of
  child poverty.
  - There is an increased emphasis on programs that will
  create jobs. Hopefully these new programs will help to
  offset the impact of benefit and eligibility changes.
  - There is some reason to believe that some social
  assistance recipients will qualify for these new employment
  - There is federal money being put into a special transition
  job fund and other employment initiatives. It's too soon to
  tell how much money Nova Scotia will receive from either of
  these two programs.
  That's about all we can say for now. There are likely more
  questions than answers at this point."
  Contact: David Harrigan  902-424-3750
  trp                   Dec. 01, 1995