Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond to my colleague's important question.
Our government understands the concerns of seasonal workers who find themselves without any source of income after exhausting their regular EI benefits before they go back to work.
Earlier this year, people in some regions across Canada were hit hard by this income gap, referred to as the “trou noir”. Faced with this challenging and stressful situation, seasonal workers needed our help, and with the help of the provincial governments involved, we responded. First, we provided immediate support by reallocating $10 million from existing resources to the most affected provinces: Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
It should be noted that the provinces will determine how to distribute these funds based on their needs. They are in the best position to do that.
Also, in August, we announced that we would be investing approximately $189 million to implement a new pilot project to provide up to five additional weeks of EI regular benefits to eligible seasonal claimants in 13 EI regions. It is estimated that 51,500 seasonal claimants will benefit from these extra weeks of EI each year.
Finally, they are also making available an additional $41 million over two years for all provinces and territories through their labour market development agreements. This funding will enable provinces and territories to provide skills training and employment supports for workers in seasonal industries.
We believe that skills development and training are also important. This is not because our seasonal workers are not skilled, far from it. Our workers are already trained for the industries they work in. It is not because they are leaving seasonal industries. We need seasonal workers in these industries.
However, that is because training aims to strengthen seasonal workers' ability to support seasonal businesses.
We are doing this because we are committed to reducing the difficulties that too many families and workers in seasonal employment are facing.
While working with stakeholders and the provinces affected, we will continue to look for solutions to the challenges faced by workers in seasonal industries.