News - EI Reforms

LNB message to government on behalf of LNB & LPEI:

On behalf of the Landscape New Brunswick and Landscape PEI, I would like to express our industries concern over the proposed reforms to the current Employment Insurance program. The articulation of this concern was arrived at after many hours on conference calls with Canadian National Nursery Association and Landscape Nova Scotia, consultation one on one with members, member surveys, and discussions with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

To boil it down to one simple thought: Our main concern is that our ability to retain our seasonal workforce and the intellectual capacity (expertise) that they have accumulated will be lessened and these highly-trained yet seasonal staff will be forced to seek other careers which will have a significant negative impact on our current human resource issues as well as our ability to do business.

Virtually all of our member companies see the changes as a challenge to our industry, as well as to most of the other seasonal industries in New Brunswick and PEI. Some of the changes are welcome and we view this as an opportunity to open a dialog with federal regulators. Most are in agreement that changes are needed to rectify a “broken and oft-abused system” but fear the repercussion on an industry that is still very much in the growth stage will be detrimental.

The designation of Landscape Horticulture as a Red Seal trade, the start-up of the Landscape Horticulture Training Institute in Sussex, the expansion of the products and services our members offer and the level of professional brought to the industry by the Landscape Industry Certification program are all examples of how hard the industry is working to raise the bar of professionalism and to attract the next generation of workers.

Most landscaping businesses will work with some staff as seasonal. The season for landscaping in the Maritimes tends to run from mid March until the end of November. Some of our landscaping business owners attempt to supplement incomes through wintersnow removal. However, it isn't enough to keep all staff throughout winter months.

In Canada the landscaping industry contributes over $14 billion a year to the Canadian economy. The sector generates $3.8 billion in employment income and another $850 million in end-user taxes generated (PST and HST). Direct sector employment is 110,750 full-time equivalent positions. Together with indirect employment generated by the sector, the total direct and indirect full-time equivalent employment is 132,776 jobs with the number of people employed in the sector on a seasonal basis.

LNB message to members:
We want to assure Landscape NB and PEI members that we will stay on top of this matter and work to ensure that the application of changes to the EI programs do not negatively impact your business.

LNB encourages you to be part of the dialogue with government, either by writing or visiting your local MP or MLA. I’m not sure about PEI, but Premier Alward is asking the various commodities with concerns to step forward. Rest assured, staff of LNB will be taking part in that consultation process.

Selected comments from survey:
• I currently employ people who have invested time and effort in this industry and want to make it a career.
• Twenty five employees at peak time, two year round positions, and ten long term seasonal full time. Wages of 15.00-22.00 per hour for these people. Start early April to mid December usually. Some of these people have been here 20 years. They are key to this operation. Businesses such as this can not operate without these experienced personnel. Many of the employees in this occupation have spent years at NBCC or NSAC studying.
• …we are exploring new opportunities to extend our season and keep people on.
• Our Canadian Government has built reliance on the EI and Welfare programs.  As a business owner we should take this as an indication that past times have expended the Canadian resources available to continue such programs…
• We offer our full time employees, part time work during our off season. Will these workers be forced to take full time positions else where!
• We have employees that have been with for over 20 years. They love their work and return every year. They are trained and return to their work positions. I would prefer to keep the valued,trained worker we have worked so hard to retain. in the past years.
• Nearly all my guys are already talking about looking for something full time in another field if the government starts hassling them come winter time. The only thing that's been stopping me from growing the last few years has been the lack of good employees, they're already hard enough to find without the government taking the good ones out of the trade.
• I would agree that changes to the system should be looked into, but this severe of a change will be absolutely harmful and will destroy many season businesses.
• Our industry has worked diligently on the education and training of our staff, raising the professionalism of our ever growing industry. As a Red Seal Trade, where my firm has two apprentices going through their block training and more to follow, these changes will prove devastating. It is unfair to group our industry in the chronically unemployed category. This legislation jeopardizes our ability to maintain highly trained, competent staff.
• I have so far, been able to fulfill my labour requirements without having to hire migrant workers, but if the government places additional pressures on my workers to find work elsewhere or move outside their community, I may not have them back each year, and we will most certainly experience a worker shortage, and may need to go offshore.Our seasonal business will suffer as we lose good employees and constantly retraining new employees will take a heavy toll on finances and lost business opportunities.
• Our climate dictates the seasonality of our industry not our lack of willingness to work in our chosen careers. Any seasonal business, and there are many, requires the services of employees year after year.  We have great difficulty getting enough skilled employees now but if the government starts forcing our employees to move and/or find other work, it will be a disaster.
• The economy is made up of a diversity of people working in a variety of professions to satisfy the needs of all society.  Part of the diversity involves seasonal work.  To penalize people who want to work in a seasonal industry by denying them the opportunity to collect a portion of what their normal wage would be to bridge a few months employment gap in the winter is short-sighted.