Western premiers work on joint E. I.-reform proposal, says Alberta’s Stelmach

Canada’s western premiers are developing a joint proposal to reform Canada’s employment insurance program, says Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach.

Premier's

DAWSON CITY, Yukon — Canada’s western premiers are developing a joint proposal to reform Canada’s employment insurance program, says Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach.

He says the western-based reform proposal will be submitted to the newly created federal government panel that has yet to officially name all of its members.

Stelmach says their proposal will call for EI claims to be based on three geographic categories — urban, rural and remote.

The federal EI reform panel was announced Wednesday after meetings between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff.

The meetings between Harper and Ignatieff likely held off a summer federal election.

Stelmach says the western leaders, including leaders from the northern territories, believe an EI proposal endorsed by all of them will carry more weight.

The western leaders are holding two days of talks in Dawson City, Yukon.

Free trade within Canada and with the United States is dominating the talks, but EI reform is also of concern as some premiers say the current system should be equal across the country.

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