Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Union seeks to end EI house calls

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OTTAWA -- The union representing federal employees is asking the government to stop sending its workers for unannounced visits at the home of employment insurance recipients.

The union says it fears for the safety of its employees, given the level of public anger over changes to the EI system that could affect seasonal workers.

"We're putting employees in situations that are very dangerous," Larry Rousseau, a spokesman for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said Thursday.

He spoke following a report by The Canadian Press that public servants have been making unannounced visits since January, as part of an examination being conducted while the EI program is overhauled.

During those visits, federal employees have been hand-delivering questionnaires and requests for people to appear at their regular EI interviews.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended the house calls when asked about them Thursday.

"Every year, unfortunately, in our employment insurance system hundreds of millions of dollars are identified or are lost through false, or fraudulent, or inappropriate claims," Harper said while in Saskatoon for an unrelated announcement.

About 1,200 EI beneficiaries will be receiving the visits, through the end of next month. A group of 50 federal civil servants has been assigned to make the house calls.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 22, 2013 A13

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