Morneau defends extra EI help for parts of oil patch

… while leaving some hard hit areas of the oil patch such as Edmonton out of the budget plan.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

OTTAWA — Finance Minister Bill Morneau is defending the Liberal government’s decision to boost employment insurance benefits for parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan while leaving some hard hit areas of the oil patch out of the budget plan.

Morneau says the government had to decide what areas of the country needed the most help with extra weeks of employment insurance benefits for unemployed workers.

Left out of that list were cities like Edmonton, and parts of Saskatchewan that Premier Brad Wall has said could also use the help.

Morneau told CTV’s “Question Period” that the government chose the 12 regions to help them “deal with what’s been a significant change and a harder time for those people to get re-employed.”

He adds the government is making other changes to the employment insurance program that are designed to help the entire country, including cutting waiting times for applicants to receive their first payments.

Morneau also says the Liberals expect low- and middle-income families to spend money they receive through tax breaks and a new, income-tested child benefit unveiled in the budget and that will help the economy.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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