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Cornelia Seward, of Goose berry Cove, Newfoundland - near one the highest regions of unemployment in the country - tags fish from the Goose Berry Cove Cod fish farm as its prepared for shipment to market. (Greg Locke for The Globe and Mail/Greg Locke for The Globe and Mail)
Cornelia Seward, of Goose berry Cove, Newfoundland - near one the highest regions of unemployment in the country - tags fish from the Goose Berry Cove Cod fish farm as its prepared for shipment to market. (Greg Locke for The Globe and Mail/Greg Locke for The Globe and Mail)

The long and winding road facing Canada's rural unemployed Add to ...

Have car, must travel.

The federal government has outlined its Employment Insurance reforms, including a provision that calls on recipients to accept work within one hour’s commute. Documents released by the Conservatives say the time frame “could be longer in communities where longer commuting times are the norm.”

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The acceptable radius for a job hunt for EI recipients is a divisive issue, given the variety of transportation factors Canadians face.

From Bonavista Nfld., to Vancouver, hour-long commutes are not created equal.

Statistics Canada says the region with the highest unemployment rate in the country in April was Notre Dame-Central Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador at 21.1 per cent.

The region is home to the town of Grand Falls-Windsor, one of the largest communities in the province with its population of 13,725.

A Grand Falls-Windsor resident can head down the Trans-Canada Highway and reach the town of Bishop’s Falls – significantly smaller with a population of about 3,300 – in about 15 minutes, or 15 kilometres. Though a couple of other small towns are in range, Grand Falls-Windsor residents could find themselves heading to the town of Gander, population 11,054.

They’ll need some luck to make it in an hour, though – Gander’s approximately 95 kilometres away.

The region of Campbellton-Miramichi, New Brunswick, had the second highest unemployment rate at 19.6 per cent.

From the town of Campbellton, which saw its population grow by one person from 2006 to 2011, reaching 7,385 – a driver can get to the town of Dalhousie in about 25 minutes, or 25 kilometres. Though there are a couple villages that can be reached within the hour, there do not appear to be any other towns.

The city of Miramichi is well out of range at more than two hours and approximately 180 kilometres.

Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec had the fifth highest unemployment rate at 15.3 per cent.

The city of Gaspé sits near the water on the province’s eastern edge and has a population of more than 15,000. Its peninsula proximity, however, can make it difficult to reach neighbouring communities in a timely manner.

Gaspé residents might be forced to drive to the village of Percé. Approximately 70 kilometres away, it can be reached in about an hour.

While those who reside in more rural areas could find themselves driving long and far, people in urban centres have more options both when it comes to the number of cities and the ways to get there. In Toronto (8.3 per cent unemployment rate) EI recipients could make it to Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Pickering, Newmarket, Oshawa, Oakville, Hamilton and so on in the time allotted. If Toronto has a longer timeframe, the list could grow even larger.

B.C.’s Lower Mainland southwest region, which includes Vancouver, had an unemployment rate of 6.6 per cent. Residents could find themselves trekking to places such as Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, New Westminster and Surrey – if they don’t already.

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