Many suffer from stress, anxiety and even exhaustion after significant financial losses.
This is the case of Julie (fictional first name), who has been waiting for her benefits for almost five months. However, the standard period for receiving benefits is 28 days.
“I just watched my bank account keep shrinking. I was close to depression. I was almost unable to look for a job anymore,” the woman told Noovo Info.
Although she has found a new job since her efforts began, benefits have still not been released for more than two months. That's a huge hole in the budget.
“I thought it was a shame that we as citizens were still paying these contributions.”
Carl, a father of three children, suffered from the inflexibility of the system. The man who lost his job last year had to wait almost two months to get employment insurance, then said he worked a few hours as an on-call firefighter.
His services will then be suspended a month before Christmas.
“I was told it was self-employment,” he said. Service Canada then launched an investigation.
“I wondered what I should do to pay my bills and feed my children,” the father complained.
Lack of resources?
A year ago, Service Canada promised to reduce wait times. On paper, the situation has improved. 86% of requests are processed within the specified time frame, reports Employment and Social Development Canada.
However, the reality on the ground has not changed. It also appears to have gotten worse, according to the Montreal Unemployment Committee (CCM), which is calling for labor insurance reform to bring more flexibility to the system.
“In 2023, three quarters of the files we process will be administrative delay files. “It wasn’t that bad before the pandemic,” said CCM attorney Me Gabriel Pelletier.
Recipients of unemployment insurance can have income according to certain criteria. But as mentioned above, this often triggers an investigation by Service Canada, and that's where things get stuck.
“I was told that the case was very easy to solve,” says Carl.
“If we have an investigation that should take as long as a phone call, we give ourselves the resources to make sure it really does take as long as a phone call.”
-I Gabriel Pelletier, lawyer at the Montreal Unemployment Committee.
Service Canada, in turn, says the number of employment insurance intermediaries has declined slightly since September 2023 to meet needs this year and through 2024-2025. Officer capacity will continue to be monitored regularly to accommodate fluctuating workloads throughout the year, it said.
Watch Louis-Philippe Bourdeau's report in the video.