Federal government’s obtuse employment formula

Anyone paying attention to the federal government must have been amused this past week when...

Anyone paying attention to the federal government must have been amused this past week when Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced changes to employment insurance eligibility for Albertans. Well…most Albertans.

Changes to EI make it quicker and easier to get funding while unemployed in south, central, northern and Calgary regions of Alberta. But not Edmonton.

As of this writing, no explanation has been floated yet from the feds why most, but not all, parts of Alberta get streamlined pogie but it seems fairly obvious. The bureaucratic machine was involved.

Edmonton’s unemployment rate, for example, is described by the federal government itself right now to be about 6.5 per cent, below the current national average of 6.7. Comparatively, Calgary’s unemployment rate is said to be about 7.5 per cent, above the national average.

So it’s very likely someone, somewhere in the federal government said “Edmonton’s two-tenths of a per cent below the national average, don’t give it to them because everything is just fine. But give it to everybody else.” The most likely explanation is the unemployment rate is slightly lower in Edmonton because most provincial and federal government offices are located in the province’s capital and nobody in those worlds has suffered from the recession.

It behooves the federal government bureaucracy to keep in mind that not everyone who lives in Edmonton works in the city; likewise, many people live in the area immediately outside Edmonton, such as Leduc or Leduc County, but may work anywhere in Alberta, or other parts of the country.

A few weeks ago the Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer covered the Leduc mayors lunch, where an economic update of the region was provided. The vacancy rate in and around the Leduc/Nisku area is alarming, and even anecdotes from local experts about how quiet Highway #2 seems, even by the airport, illustrates the state of the economy.

Should Edmonton get the shaft when it comes to employment insurance? Of course not. Edmonton should be treated like everybody else.

But such a common sense approach is just going to confuse the people running federal government programs.