News : EI Wait Times to be Studied
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 13, 2016 -- Winnipeg Liberal MP Terry Duguid has been tasked with helping to cut down wait times for Canadians trying to access employment insurance.
Duguid and Nova Scotia MP Rodger Cuzner will spend the next two months holding consultations across the country, as well as studying how the United Kingdom and Australia improved their systems.
They will report back to Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos in the fall.
Duguid is Duclos’ parliamentary secretary and Cuzner fills that role for Mihychuk.
As job losses in a number of industries mounted thanks to the downturn in oil prices, Canada’s EI system has been more taxed than usual. More than 966,000 people received EI in February, compared with 921,000 in February 2015, Statistics Canada figures show.
Applicants for EI can wait more than a month to see if they will be approved. That’s if they can even get through to an agent at an EI call centre.
Duguid said only 31 per cent of callers make it into the queue to speak to an agent. The rest get an automated message telling them to call back.
"Canadians face too many challenges accessing our services," Duguid said, at a news conference outside a Service Canada office in Ottawa Thursday.
In the March budget, the federal government said it would spend $19 million to make EI service delivery more responsive and $73 million over the next two years to improve EI call centres, including hiring more agents.
Duguid said the focus of his review is to streamline the application process, cut wait times to process them, and reduce the administrative burden for employers.
He is handling the consultations in the West and the North while Cuzner will handle them in Central Canada and the Atlantic.
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Published: Monday, May 16, 2016