March 29, 2016 7:42 am
Updated: March 29, 2016 9:28 pm

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hears Calgarians’ stories during employment insurance roundtable

WATCH ABOVE: Large crowds gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the rockstar treatment in Calgary Tuesday. The PM stopped to shake hands and pose for photos, but he also answered tough questions from Calgarians who’ve lost jobs and struggle to pay the bills. Gary Bobrovitz reports.

A A

Tune into Global Calgary on Tuesday as Gord Gillies hosts an exclusive interview with Trudeau on the News Hour at 6 p.m.

CALGARY – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Calgary Tuesday, where he participated in a roundtable on employment insurance and visited SAIT Polytechnic.

He said he had very candid conversations with a diverse group of people in Calgary, including seasoned workers, those in the oil industry and students.

“These are people who embody hope and hard work,” Trudeau said.

“People who have supported Canada’s economy… and have now fallen on difficult times… and need their country to be there for them.”

Trudeau faced questions about his government’s decision to boost employment insurance benefits for parts of the country while leaving some hard-hit areas of the oilpatch out of the budget plan.

WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to questions of E.I. regional variations between Calgary and Edmonton.

Story continues below

READ MORE: Trudeau won’t say why Edmonton was left out of EI extensions in federal budget 2016

“The EI system as it has been set up… is regionally based,” Trudeau said.

“Losing one’s job in one particular area may have much different challenges – as in finding a new job – than in a different area.”

The prime minister said the government targeted the extra EI measures on the “hardest hit regions.” He added “the changes we made to EI on those 12 different regions are but a small part of the shifts we’ve made to EI.”

Trudeau said the Liberals also changed the EI wait period and requirements for new workers and first-time applicants. He also brought up the $250 million in stabilization funding given to the Alberta government.

The government of Canada divides Alberta into four EI regions: Edmonton, Calgary, Northern Alberta and Southern Alberta.

Graphic by Tonia Huynh, Global News

The government has said it picked 12 regions that needed the most help with extra weeks of EI benefits for jobless workers.

“Extending the duration of EI benefits where a rise in unemployment has been sharp and sustained and where there haven’t been signs of recovery,” he explained.

However, Trudeau said Tuesday the government will review and monitor the situation and the impact of the changes.

“Canada is a great country because we work hard and we take care of each other,” Trudeau said.

READ MORE: Federal Budget 2016: Big changes coming to employment insurance

Those areas included Newfoundland and Labrador, parts of northern and southern Alberta, northern British Columbia, northern Manitoba, northern Ontario, northern Saskatchewan, Whitehorse and Nunvaut.

WATCH: Justin Trudeau talks Employment Insurance and economy in Calgary.

Calgary was on the list but Edmonton was left off, as were parts of Saskatchewan.

Trudeau said he heard the stories of many people on Tuesday and he understands many Canadians feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under them.

“As effective as a government can be… the very scale of the challenges we’re facing sometimes leave me as an individual wishing I could do more.”

WATCH:Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined Global Calgary’s Gord Gillies to talk issues that matter to Albertans.

With files from The Canadian Press

© 2016 Shaw Media

Report an error

Comments

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.