Faced with mounting delays over the past few months, Service Canada has suggested that benefit claimants seek help from loved ones, for example to pay for groceries, while they wait for their case to be processed, a request that may surprise many who are already in a precarious situation.
“This is ridiculous! Service Canada is asking people if they can find help when it’s up to Service Canada to process their case as quickly as possible!” exclaimed the executive director of Mouvement Action Chômage Lac-Saint-Jean, France Simard.
“It doesn’t make sense to suggest that anyone go on welfare or liquidate their RRSPs in the meantime,” lamented LASTUSE du Saguenay Director General Sylvain Bergeron. The organization specifically accompanies applicants for daily allowance and social assistance.
Last September, Ottawa withdrew the temporary measures put in place to speed up the processing of applications. Delays are already piling up, to the point where officials have invited claimants to find personal solutions, pending Service Canada’s decision.
“One woman whose case had dragged on for 6 or 8 months sold her house to pay her terms,” Mr. Bergeron said.
“There is more and more distress and people who are angry at Service Canada. We are suggesting that they borrow when many are already in trouble,” noted France Simard.
The complexity of a file can delay its investigation, Mouvement Action Chômage Lac-Saint-Jean noted. A voluntary departure in connection with, for example, harassment will require several months of investigation.
“The investigators want to know if such a departure was justified. It can take a year before the trial, and during this time the person does not receive a benefit,” explained Mr.me Simard.
Protesters approached Bloc Québécois Mario Simard on Tuesday morning to demand further changes to employment insurance to make the system more accessible to women, especially those who are pregnant. Among the group, Jessica Soucy was illegally fired on the last day of her maternity leave, without being eligible for employment insurance.