I’ve had a request from one of my tiny, miniscule but I’m not counting wee readership for further information on Employment Insurance. I am speaking only of EI in Canada, although I am very curious about how it all works in other countries. Like say in Saudi Arabia, if you lose your job, does the government give you money to live? Or say Prince William loses his job, does the government step in? Is Meryl Streep going on Medicaid in a few years? Just curious.
Anyway, EI. The last few months of my job, I heard “EI” more times than I care to remember. Lots of folks (myself included) were becoming rather terrified of losing our jobs and were freaked out over how the job was changing – benefits taken away, salary cut, etc. Some people, in an effort I figured to make themselves feel better, repeatedly said, “Hey, at least it is better than EI.” This began to drive me crazy. To me, it’s like comparing apples and oranges or say a cinnamon bun and I don’t know, dry movie theatre popcorn. Uh, theater for my American readership. EI is a stop gap measure when you are looking for a new job. It is not a replacement for a job obviously or an excuse to stay at a bad job. In a very real sense, I was lucky to get laid off when I did because I had been earning quite a lot and thus got more EI than I would have gotten had my job dribbled away in bits and pieces, which had been a very likely possibility. My former job is a whole blog unto itself. Actually, I would need the entire internet to explain it. That’s right,, the whole internet. The whole thing. All of it. Every last bit. And paper too. I’d need the internet and all of the paper at Office Depot and Staples put together, both sides, colour and white paper. It’s true. It would be like the bible and the book of mormon put together and all the books about these books. A blog about my former job would be like the Great Wall of China blogs. Huge. But tedious too with lots of footnotes and Ibids and all that kind of stuff. Dull really.
And then there would be the legalities of taking over the whole internet and what not. And then there’d be photos and that sort of thing.
When you lose your job in Canada, you may get EI. Or you may not. Until 1993 or so I think, you could quit your job and after an eight week waiting period, collect EI. That has been long gone. You can now only get EI if you are laid off of your job. If you are fired for ‘gross misconduct” (I always picture this as someone spitting at work and someone else going, ‘oooh, gross) or you quit, you will not receive it. No, nyet, no no. No. never, no!!!!!!!!!!! And finally, not.
Well, unless you can prove that you quit for a reason like you were being harrassed or something. That can be difficult to prove.
There is also medical EI, which I think only runs for 15 weeks. This would be for a medical condition obviously or if you can prove undue stresss, I think. Doctors and such must be involved. Fifteen weeks is not very long. A former co-worker had broken her knee in many places! and was off work for a year. Another had to battle a long breast cancer battle and was also off for a year. Fifteen weeks is not much.
Now, say you are laid off and you are eligible for EI. This will be a process that may try your patience. Most companies (but alas, not the one I just worked at) will issue an electronic ROE and a hard copy to you. The ROE will go directly to EI. If you work at a dysfunctional or luddite type company, you will have to take the hard copy of your ROE (make a copy!) and actually bring it a Service Canada office. You will need to stand in a line to do this. Note: There will always be a line no matter what time of day you go. Note: offices are usually open 8:30-4:30 pm. Note: people in front of you in the line will have many many questions to ask the receptionist. They will look for things in their bags. They will drop things. They will stand stunned at what they have been told, mouths hanging open and not move as everyone waits in silence for eight minutes. This WILL happen to you. Bring a book.
But hopefully, your company is not dysfunctional and will have sent your ROE electronically. Sunny days! Chasing the clouds away! You must then, the millisecond you are laid off, your very last day of work (but not before), go to a computer that has internet. Go to the Service Canada website. Fill out the applying for EI form.
There, you can breathe a bit more deeply now. Now, you just have to wait. You must first serve an at home prison sentence of a two week waiting period. You cannot work or earn money during this two weeks. Stay home. Eat noodles.
Okay, I’m getting bored. I shall speed this up. It is only supposed to take 4 weeks to finalize your claim but it will probably take longer. You will eventually get retro cheques if you have been approved. EI will be 57% of what you made I think to a maximum (in Vancouver) at present of $842 every two weeks. You can get a maximum of 40 weeks. It all depends on how many hours you have worked and how much money you have made. If you have no savings, this waiting period will seem interminable. Some people have to go on welfare until their EI kicks in. Not a perfect system for sure.
Let me tell you all, all of you, that EI is not enough to live on nor is it intended to be. It is, of course, better than nothing. Whilst on EI and for up to I believe three years after, you can take advantage of different EI programs (which are changing, as per my earlier blog entry, “EI, EI, O.”) But still, there are career planning and job search courses, as well as some funding for starting your own business or wanting to go back to school (that is very tricky money to get and something that takes a lot of effort to get apparently. Also, the courses you want to take must be approved first obviously and must make you job ready). But still, these things are there. I, for example, have a case manager. Mind you, I never hear from her unless I e-mail her. She is swamped, I imagine. But still, but still. Sigh.
Ok, I’m bored talking about EI now.