Accessing services is going to get a lot more difficult for workers needing EI. The Federal Government has announced a merger of Service Canada Centres from 120 to just 22 operating across the country over the next 3 years. There will be now only 6 processing centres in Ontario! The sites will be Richmond Hill and Mississauga to service the Greater Toronto Area, Kitchener, London, Windsor, North Bay and Sudbury. The closures will affect 600 workers and their jobs.
The changes at Service Canada have been described as “modernizing” the system but we know through our own experience that the move to the computerized system has led to more difficulties and further delays when simple mistakes are made in the application.
At the Workers’ Action Centre we have been hearing directly from workers about their experiences waiting for their EI applications to be processed. Increasingly people are facing large delays in getting their applications processed, difficulties getting through on the phone to speak to agents — resulting in delays and difficulties receiving cheques.
The number of full-time workers dropped by 72,000 across the country and once again the manufacturing sector was hit hardest. In Ontario, employment dropped by 39,000 – many of which were full-time jobs. These losses will be putting pressure on an overburdened EI system where already claimants wait too long to have their applications processed and delays in the processing further jeopardize workers’ and their families lives and finances.
According to the Globe and Mail, the number of claims waiting to be processed, renewals and claimants requiring call backs and follow up is more than double than in previous years.
What can you do?
Do you know someone who is waiting to receive their EI benefits? If you have concerns or complaints about lengthy delays in the processing their EI claim, make a complaint with Service Canada. In a recent news story, it was reported that unless claimants contacting Service Canada used specific language, their complaints were not redirected to the Office of Client Satisfaction. Workers at Service Canada have been told not forward calls to the Office unless they are explicitly asked, “Do you have information about the Office of Client Satisfaction.” Ask for information about the Office of Client Satisfaction to have your voice heard.
Please call WAC at (416) 531-0778 to share your experience of delays and problems and to talk to us about what you can do while they waiting for benefits to start.