Applying for EI was easy, getting to the second round is damn near impossible
By Craig Allan, Staff Writer
Like many Canadians, I have found myself unemployed due to coronavirus. Yes, I have my income from the paper, but it’s not really enough. So, I had to sign up for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments. I originally did it through Employment Insurance (EI), applying a couple of days after I lost my job. After some initial worries, I received the first payment in April. Now though is the time to sign up for the second month of payments, and that is proving to be a herculean effort.
Last week I started the process of signing up for May’s payments. I did not realize that I had to put in a bi-weekly report if I signed up through EI, so I had to go back to write in the results for mid-March. They haven’t yet approved the EI report that I sent a week ago, and they’ve suggested that I should call them.
decided to call them. After going through the opening messages, which you cannot
skip even though they just tell you the same information, English or French,
emergency benefit plan blah, blah, blah, you eventually get to the menu where
you can contact a representative. I press zero, happy my EI nightmare is going
to end and… “due to
high call volumes, we are unable to take your call at this time—please call
back later.” When? When is the best time to call back?! If the call volumes are
high now, they will never be low! Why can’t I send an email, leave a message,
or have EI do the intelligent thing and just automatically approve my EI claim
without the struggle? Better yet, why can’t they just allow everyone to sign up
through the CERB, which I have read is only asking for a few things like
personal info, social insurance number, and confirmation you meet the
For this pandemic, I have
been very understanding of the imposition the government is in. Even when I
felt they were being stubborn by introducing the CERB and then only gradually
changing the rules of applying to include people who were excluded from the
program initially. I was calm about it because I know this is such an
unprecedented event in modern Canadian history, so I accept that the government
is going to stumble a bit when it comes to the implementation of things like
this. However, my patience is running out. People need to be able to contact
Service Canada for issues like this. The lines should be going 24/7, especially
if the service offices are going to remain closed. Speaking of the service
offices, they really should be reopened. If places like Superstore and the
Royal Bank can install plexiglass protectors, then so can the government. If
you don’t have enough people to man the phones, then you need to open up the
service centres. People like me are getting trapped with no other options. We
are getting close to May, and I do not see any effort to make this better.
Either roll the EI into the CERB system or make it easier.