Access to EI should not be more difficult


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/09/2022 (247 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

On Sept. 24, the federal government changed Employment Insurance rules back to their broken, pre-pandemic norm. While the Liberal government in Ottawa often claims the pandemic is over and the economy is returning to normal, Canadians know better.

There are still many industries that have not bounced back. Shortages of certain items, such as microchips, continue to wreak havoc on supply chains, making markets less predictable and contributing to the inflation we are all seeing at the pumps, in grocery stores and for so many other goods.

Government services certainly have not returned to normal. Anyone who has applied for a passport lately can tell you as much. The system is in a state of disaster.

Just since June, my office has dealt with dozens of people in Elmwood-Transcona alone who are trying to travel but cannot get a passport in a timely fashion. Many have taken time off work and camped overnight outside passport offices in the hope of getting their passport applications processed before their travel dates.

In addition to the stress of trying to plan travel for business, family events, conferences and other purposes, many Canadians have lost a lot of money because their passports were not processed on time and they were unable to leave the country on the planned date.

In another failing department, the immigration backlog has surpassed 2.7 million active cases and continues to grow, causing problems and distress for families and businesses alike. Applicants cannot get simple updates on the status of their applications or even an estimate on how long they can expect to wait for answers. In some cases, my office staff have had to wait over three hours on the phone just to reach an agent and make enquiries on behalf of constituents.

With basic government services in complete disarray, it is no time to adopt more complicated rules for Employment Insurance. The EI system needed an overhaul even before the pandemic. Many of the rules adopted during the pandemic made it simpler to access the program and would provide a strong foundation for a better overall system.

Reverting to the old, more complicated rules simply means that more people will be left behind. These are people experiencing job loss in this time of economic challenge and rising costs.

They deserve an EI system that will help them weather the storm. The federal government is clearly in no position to administer a more complicated program. New Democrats are pushing for the temporary pandemic rules to remain in place until the federal government delivers on a real fix to the long-standing problems with Canada’s EI system.

Daniel Blaikie

Daniel Blaikie
Elmwood-Transcona constituency report

Daniel Blaikie is the NDP MP for Elmwood-Transcona.

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