As with the other times that I’ve been unemployed, I’ve applied for employment insurance, the social assistance program that helps Canadians with financial benefits while they are unemployed. I’ve become quite accustomed to the process of applying for and being on EI. Some might think this is sad but I don’t. EI has never been a program that I’ve depended on to pay for my mortgage or help me buy food. I feel quite lucky it’s never come to that and I hope it never will.
EI does help soften the reality of being unemployed. As nice as it is though, it can be very tough to get the benefits. Depending on how you were paid when you lost your job, you could wind up waiting weeks or even months before you see a dime from the government. For everyone, there’s at least a two-week waiting period before they’ll even consider giving you money. Then they look at if your company gave you severance or even paid you out any vacation. They take that money into consideration and then extend the time before they’ll start sending you cheques.
This waiting time can go into the absurd. So when PopCap closed down our Vancouver studio, I was given an extremely generous severance package. There was no way I could not report that to the government. Even though I applied for EI the week after I was unemployed, the government determined I could go on EI but I wouldn’t see any money until an incredible four and a half months later. The government is currently still assessing my latest EI application, so I won’t know for a few more days until when I could see some sweet social assistance. I’m guessing it won’t be anywhere close to a four-month wait for money.