Friday, November 18, 2011

Conservatives don't get the 'desperation' of EI situation

I posed the following questions in the House of Commons on Friday, Nov. 18th, following the publication earlier this week of a front-page story in the St. John's Telegram (MP says EI claimants upset with long delays, Nov. 16th):

Madam Speaker,

Service Canada budget cuts mean fewer people are processing Employment Insurance claims and handling calls.

Claimants are often forced to wait well beyond the normal processing time of about 28 days.

With no income for six weeks to two months, workers and families are having a hard time putting food on the table and paying bills.

My question comes directly from a Service Canada employee in St. John's, Newfoundland.

When is the government going to stop talking about automation and actually fix the problems at Service Canada?

Response from Kellie Leitch, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour, CPC:

Madam Speaker, I thank the member's constituent for the question.

It is really unfortunate that union leaders, who have clearly convinced the opposition party, are selfishly attempting to ensure that the old, ineffective, labour intensive method of processing EI claims is what we should be focused on.

Our government's top priority is getting Canadians back to work and promoting economic growth.

We are committed to providing timely service.

As we have said before, no Service Canada offices will be closing, nor will there be any cuts to front-line services offered by Service Canada.

And my follow-up question:

Madam Speaker, those guys just do not get the desperation of the situation.

I wonder if the Prime Minister or the Minister of Finance would be prepared to visit an EI call centre to take a few telephone calls themselves.

They could hear first-hand the damage their government is doing.

Across the country fewer and fewer Canadians are eligible for EI.

Almost 60 per cent of unemployed workers in Canada do not qualify.

Delays are way beyond anything acceptable.

When will the government stop steamrolling ahead with more cuts to Service Canada?

Leitch response:

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned before, no Service Canada offices will be closing.

As a result of this initiative, there will be no impact on in-person services offered by Service Canada.

Automation is important.

Making sure we move forward to make sure more Canadians are served in a timely manner is important.

We are going to be moving forward with this process as we continue to.

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