Not any more

Workers hired to handle EI claims laid off

In Canada on August 29, 2010 at 09:54

Up to 600 workers hired to handle soaring jobless claims during the recession will themselves be out of work by the end of September.

The Canadian Employment and Immigration Union says the government served notice Friday of the pending layoffs.

The workers are employed at Service Canada offices across the country where they process employment insurance claims.

They are among the 3,200 workers hired on a temporary basis in 2009 to deal with a backlog of claims that unions and opposition MPs complained was leaving too many people without benefits for too long.

Steve McCuaig, a union vice-president, said 600 workers had been let go at the end of May, but as many as 600 will also be jobless by the end of September.

“It’s going to impact the unemployed — there’s no question about that,” McCuaig said in an interview. “The number of unemployed people has not changed that much, so they’re still dealing with a tremendous number of applications between now and the end of this fiscal year on March 31.”

The union represents 17,000 Service Canada workers, the bulk of whom are involved in processing EI claims and pension benefits, including CPP, OAS and GIS.

He said officials from Human Resources and Skills Development, which administers Services Canada, said they would try to absorb some of the workers into other agency jobs, but made no promises.

Service Canada defended the new round of layoffs Friday on grounds that EI claims are falling.

“When these workers were hired, both the temporary workers and the unions were aware that these jobs were temporary positions,” a department statement said. “When the economy began to recover and the volume of EI claims lessened, these temporary positions were no longer required.”

Statistics Canada reported earlier this month that despite an uptick in claims in April, May and June, EI claims have been on a downward trend since their peak in May 2009.

Since then, the number has declined by 89,700, the agency reported.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen


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