As many of you know, I am currently unemployed right now. This hasn’t really been a pressing issue because I received a fairly generous severance from EA when they closed down PopCap Vancouver in late April. The plan was to enjoy the summer, then find a job and start working just around when the severance money was going to run out (sometime around the end of August). Because I wanted to be cautious though, I employed a backup strategy which involved employment insurance. For those who are not from Canada and are unfamiliar with this social program, EI essentially gives out of work Canadians financial assistance when they lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

Now I knew that I wouldn’t get money from EI right away. The system takes into consideration severance money and vacation paid out when it determines when you should start getting your financial aid. With the generous package from EA, I’d anticipated that it would probably be August before I saw any money, which would have been fine. A very important point to understand, however, is that everyone should apply for EI as soon as they lose their job, no matter how large their severance package is. This is partly because of the immense amount of bureaucracy that is installed in the federal government. It can take weeks for an EI application to be processed.

I personally waited a month to apply for EI, which was probably a bit longer than I should have waited. Nonetheless, my application for EI was submitted online on June 3 of this year. From what I read online, the federal government strives to process applications within four weeks. All my supporting documentation was subsequently sent in no less than three days of my initial application. From that day forward, I waited for my application to be processed. You can checked the status of your EI application online and for weeks and weeks it did not change. “We have received your application and working diligently to ignore your unemployed ass… blah… blah… blah…” was the message for weeks and weeks on end. By the sixth week, I went into a Service Canada office to inquire about the status of my EI application. The lady at office checked my application, told me that it looked like it was being worked on and I should check again online in a few days. I asked if there was anything I had to do on my end to move this along. She said no.

Later that week, I checked the status of my application and nothing had changed. I waited another two weeks or so before returning to federal government office to ask again about the long wait. There was a different lady there who seemed very concerned when I told her it had been in excess of eight weeks without any decision on my claim. She told me she had flagged my application for attention and for a callback. I was told that if no one contacted me by the 16th of August, I should come back. That visit to the office was last week on Thursday.

Today, on August 14, I received a call from someone in the bowels of the federal government that my claim had been processed and that I would be receiving financial assistance sometime in September. Now by my math, ten weeks and two days elapsed between my initial submission of my claim to an actual decision. This is simply unacceptable. Keep in mind, it’s not that I needed the money, the severance was keeping me afloat all this time. The sticking point is that the government claimed that most applications are processed within four weeks. My application took well over twice that time. I’m also miffed that had I not bothered people in the office, I probably would have waited an eternity for a decision. I’m almost positive that had I not spoken up, my application would have never been even looked at by a government worker. In fact, I am almost positive that is a ploy by the Harper regime to not pay people when they need assistance the most. Only those who complain actually get government assistance while those who sit silently never get help.

Now all of this might be moot anyways because I’m doing my darndest to find a job before the payments begin in September. So I might not even see a dollar of government money. The whole process has left me with a very negative view of how slow this federal government is though. I wasn’t a fan of the Conservative government before and I sure as hell wasn’t convinced to think otherwise by this experience.


  1. Not to defend the government in any way, but Alana applied for EI on July 2nd (due to maternity leave), and had a cheque before the end of the month. A friend also applied last year after a layoff and had money in about five weeks. I totally agree you have to push the process along if it stalls, and that your application may have indeed been ignored if you hadn’t spoken up, but most of the folks I know who have used the service have received payments in a timely manner (after jumping through many administrative hoops).

    In any event, the process could definitely be way simpler to navigate.

  2. I don’t doubt that some people are being processed in a timely manner but I was offered no explanation as to why it took over ten weeks for my application to go through. Why the discrepancy?

  3. I totally agree, unacceptable and you should at the least get an explanation. I can’t imagine being someone who was living paycheque to paycheque having to endure something like this.

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