Burton — Calling it a “huge waste of time,” local man Andy Gerard, 28, said he’s sick to death of having to fill out his employment insurance report every single fortnight.
Gerard was laid off from his fourth call-centre job when the company folded overnight. “I’ve been working full time in the customer service industry since I graduated STU, and I don’t think I should have to beg to get my E.I. cheque when I’m the one who’s the victim here,” he whined, slouched on a beanbag chair and playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
“The process to apply was bad enough, and now they tell me that every two weeks I have to log on to the Service Canada website and check a few boxes saying I was ready, willing, and able to work during the previous two-week period. It’s winter — who works in winter? I’m sick and tired of it.”
To add insult to injury, Gerard said the bi-weekly questionnaire asks him several probing and personal questions, such as whether he’s received any “other money.”
“I got a $5 bill from Grandma in a card on my birthday. I indicated that on the online form, and it said to call Service Canada, so I did, and I was waiting on the phone for an hour, then the operator talked to me like I’m a huge waste of space who’s just leeching off the system. I eventually convinced them to cut off Grandma’s EI instead of mine, but still — what a friggin’ hassle.”
Gerard is far from the only New Brunswicker relying on employment insurance and cash gifts from equally poor relatives. His girlfriend, for example, is in a similar situation.
“We were supposed to get a nice dinner at Greco in Oromocto on Friday night, and then I suddenly remembered that our latest EI forms were due,” recalled out-of-work hairstylist Alisha Brenton, 26. “I called Andy and told him the date was off and that we’d better fill out our reports, or we wouldn’t be getting any pizza money at all next week. Honestly, these reports are ruining our lives. Can’t Service Canada just give us our money and leave us alone?”
As for Gerard, he says he may just start looking for work again rather than waiting on employment insurance. “Heck, I’m spending so much time filling out these reports — I might as well just apply for jobs, I guess. Probably easier in the end.”