A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Monday, March 23, 2009

EI - The BS continues!

Regular readers will recall us documenting a family members difficulty with the EI online application process, most notably the lack of any information indicating that it was the clients responsibility to get their ROE to the local office. Here is the reply we just received regarding my letter to the minister regarding this. (my bold)

On behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, I am writing in response to your e-mail of February 17, 2009, concerning the online Employment Insurance (EI) application service and reporting system for EI benefits.Service Canada strives to serve all individuals in the best manner possible. In this regard, I should explain that without more information, such as the claimant's Social Insurance Number, we are unable to review the EI claim or provide specific details. Allow me therefore to address your concerns in a general manner.
I wish to note that the online application for benefits is an electronic means of applying for benefits by Internet. It allows clients to enter their application electronically from any location where there is Internet access, such as at home and in a public library.As you indicated, when an application for EI benefits is submitted, a confirmation notice is presented. If, based on the information that is provided on the application, there is missing information, or additional documents are required, the confirmation page also reminds claimants to submit the information. For example, if clients indicate that they have not yet received their record of employment or if they are applying for sickness benefits and need to submit a medical certificate, a reminder will be included in the confirmation page. When applicable, the confirmation page also includes the address of the processing centre where the missing information or forms can be mailed.
Accordingly, I can affirm that provided that all of the required information is contained in the application or mailed to the processing centre, there is no requirement to visit the local Service Canada Centre, unless specifically instructed to do so.

With respect to the difficulties that some EI clients are experiencing while attempting to obtain assistance from Service Canada's 1-800 toll-free lines, I should explain that this is traditionally a busy time of year for both the call centre network and the Service Canada Centres. As you will appreciate, the Department has been receiving a considerably higher volume of applications for EI benefits in the last few months due to the current economic conditions. Consequently, call volume and service levels are affected as more clients are calling to inquire about the status of the processing of their claims.However, I wish to assure you that Service Canada is monitoring the situation closely and has directed its officials to take all possible measures to respond to inquiries without delay and to process EI applications as quickly as possible. These measures include, but are not limited to: hiring additional staff, redistributing workloads across the country and within the Department, extending the hours of operation of EI call centres, recalling recently retired processing agents and allowing overtime on a voluntary basis.

The Department's top priority is to ensure the payment of benefits as soon as possible.I hope that this information is helpful in addressing your concerns. Thank you for bringing them to my attention.

Yours sincerely,Élisabeth ChâtillonAssistant Deputy MinisterOperations BranchService Canada

Looks like another case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing again, because I can assure you that if you do not take your ROE to the EI office you WILL NOT receive benefits!

Update April 09 2009 – To be fair, having replied to the letter again stressing our difficulty re the ROE, I must report that we just received a phone call from Service Canada on behalf of Diane Finley acknowledging the problem and indicating that some changes were going to be made in the wording of the web site and also telling us that they are moving towards an online system of reporting for the employers to submit the ROE so that claims can proceed without delay. It seems that many complaints have been received of late about the EI process!

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