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The Progressive Economics Forum

Getting the Facts Straight on EI Changes

In a guest post at the Broadbent Institute, I flesh out some of the impacts of EI changes with three (fairly typical) hypothetical stories of unemployed Canadians. There are certainly more extreme consequences felt by some already.  At least these folks have access to the Board of Referees. Many fear that access to natural justice will be threatened as we transition from the old appeals system to the new downsized Social Security Tribunal starting April 1st.

Punitive changes to the definitions of suitable work, combined with cuts to Service Canada front-line workers, and a down-sized appeals process make for a very worrying combination.

The best way to get the facts straight is to tell the stories of ordinary Canadians. We need to explain how these changes are affecting our lives and our communities if there is to be broader action.  This discussion shouldn’t be limited to national newspapers. We need to talk to our friends, our family, our coworkers, and our elected representatives. It should be happening in our living rooms, our churches, our community centres.

Marlene Giersdorf, the single mother from PEI who gained national attention protesting her disentitlement to EI, is surely the tip of the iceberg. Many more are likely too afraid to come forward, or have too much to lose. But she is a great example of the impact of EI changes and the importance of fighting back – her benefits were recently reinstated.

Town halls on EI are taking place across Canada right now – find one in your community and tell your story. It could be any one of us – we’re all vulnerable.

 

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