The truth behind the cuts

The Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU) and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) have launched a new transit advertising campaign that sheds light on the disturbing effects of Service Canada cuts to Canadians, and asks the public to take action.

EI Processing and the EI Call Centre are being removed from Manitoba as EI recipients continue to see a backlog. Meanwhile, the department has yet to address the state of the OAS and Supplement area, where more than 2,000 applications received prior to July 2011, and 10,000 more since, remain outstanding.

How severe are the delays?

  • Only 30.7 per cent of EI Calls are answered by an agent within 180 seconds, while the target is 80 per cent. 
  • 78.2 per cent of revised claims (including adjustments or extensions) that are 29+ days old are outstanding, indicating the department is pushing completion of newer claims first, so that those targets don’t suffer also.
  • 4,715,677 calls were blocked (or disconnected) between April 2011 and October 2011. The stats indicate that 51 per cent of the callers attempting to reach Service Canada in relation to their EI claim were unable to do so (if no service agents are available, the caller will get a computerized message advising that all agents are busy and to try later, then disconnect them).
  • Currently, there are 2,715 applications that are dated July 31, 2011 or earlier in the workload system for Basic OAS, Complex OAS, supplement applications, income estimates, allowance and allowance for the survivor. There are another 2,029 maintenance Items that are six months or older. These numbers are just for seniors in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

What is the government doing about this?

  • There doesn’t seem to be a plan, at least nothing has been stated to the workers, as to how they expect them to clear the backlog, and do 10,246 new applications received since July 31, 2011.
  • If a citizen drops anything off at a Service Canada Centre in Manitoba it is bundled together with other documents and sent via mail to Edmonton where the “imaging unit” is located. It is then scanned and e-mailed to Brandon for action. That is approximately a seven-day delay.
  • Further reductions are to come. So more cuts in services that Canadians need and more layoffs. These job losses will hurt families, businesses and local economy.
  • It is interesting to note that the most recent available performance data is October 2011. The department has not posted either of the last two months, which raises some suspicion. Do they not want any monthly performance to be cited so that they won’t have to answer to the results in Parliament?
  • The government says that Canadians have a choice: to eliminate the deficit or have strong public services. We believe it is an absurd choice.

Who is affected most?

  • Those applying for the options are the poorest of our seniors. A single pensioner would have to have received less than $16,320 as income to qualify. So because of the severe delays in processing, many seniors are forced into poverty-like situations for long periods of time.
  • Service Canada employees often handle cases of seniors that are in extreme states of financial difficulty. We have had cases where a client has cancer and must choose between food and medication – food wins out and their condition goes untreated.
  • The impact is real. People are missing their mortgagee payments, aren’t able to pay food and electricity. 

For more information and links on cuts at Service Canada, visit the PSAC national website.