HUNTS POINT, NOVA SCOTIA -- Ottawa defended its changes to EI yesterday in response to a request from four Atlantic premiers for the federal government to suspend changes made to the program.

Federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley says the reforms are "reasonable, common sense efforts to help Canadians get back to work faster."

Under some of the new rules, those who frequently claim E-I need to prove they're actively seeking work.

Workers must also accept a job within 100 kilometres of their home as long as they are qualified and the pay is at least 70 per cent of their previous salary.

The premiers said during their meeting in Nova Scotia that there should be further study of the federal program's new rules.

They say they're hurting seasonal industries in the region.

The call to suspend the changes was championed by Tory Premier David Alward of New Brunswick.