By Robert Washburn
There is never a good time to lose a job and go on unemployment insurance. But, if you live in Northumberland County, the timing could not be worse right now.
Northumberland-Quinte West MP Rick Norlock admits there is a backlog with people experiencing Employment Insurance claims.
Northumberland Legal Centre lawyer Sarah Cooling said in the news this week the number of people facing delays is growing. Applicants are waiting eight weeks and they being told there is a slowdown and the staff are working on the approvals.
Help Centre Managing Director David Palmer said there is a major increase in people wanting assistance finding jobs, but because of the backup, they are not getting the necessary support to even find work.
Norlock admits his office is getting complaints and the number is increasing. A number of people were hired temporarily in late 2009 and 2010 to clear up a backlog at that time. Most of them are gone now.
Also, there is a three-year plan to modernize the department, so that is affecting service, he added.
Here is the thing: if there is any time the government should step up, it is when people are most vulnerable?
It is ironic the government who is about to hand out so many lay-off notices to public servants can’t handle a basic service like EI. Not only does it mean there will be fewer service representatives to help other people apply and get approved for EI; but also, it is about to make the problem worse by adding to the number of applicants.
It is another example of the lack of compassion shown by the Tories in a growing list.
Some may think cutting government services to save money is a great thing. But when are Norlock and his fellow Conservatives going to get the dollar signs out of their eyes and see the face of every day Canadians instead.
Good to see this column exposing the mess that our federal services are becoming under this government. Kind of reminds me of what happened in Ontario when the Harris conservatives took over, and it looks like Flaherty, Clement and Baird haven’t forgotten how to create chaos.
It gets worse, with the federal government planning to close 120 regional Service Canada offices in the next 3 years, leaving only 22 in the entire country. Many more of us will have to rely exclusively on their call centres, where 1,200 jobs are being axed now. The effects are already being felt by people calling them who can’t get through or get problems solved.
For more info on this, go to the Burd Report’s December archives to find an article titled “Drastic Cuts at Service Canada”.