Edmonton, Saskatchewan, B.C. now meet requirements for extra EI, documents show

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The Canadian Press
Ottawa: Documents outlining how the federal government chose 12 economic regions for extended EI benefits suggest Edmonton and at least two other areas would now qualify for the same help.

The documents, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, explain why other regions didn’t qualify for the help, aimed at areas hit hard by a prolonged downturn in commodity prices.

University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe says three regions Edmonton, southern Saskatchewan and B.C.’s southern interior would qualify under the government’s formula when accounting for the latest unemployment figures.

He says at least two more regions could qualify requirements next month, should the unemployment rate not drop significantly.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the federal government should provide the same benefits to workers in Edmonton, and is expected to push the issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when the Liberal leader visits Alberta.

The federal budget banked $582 million over the next two years to add five weeks of regular benefits to workers in qualifying regions, effective this July but retroactive to January 2015.

Long-tenured workers in the 12 regions identified in the budget could also see an extra 20 weeks of benefits, to a maximum of 70 weeks  again, starting this July but retroactive to January of last year.