New Democrats battle cuts to EI support services
September 6th, 2011 - 12:23pm
JONQUIÈRE – The modernization of Canada’s Employment Insurance system must not be conducted at the expense of workers in remote areas, their families and their communities, New Democrat Employment Insurance critic Claude Patry (Jonquière-Alma) said today.
The Conservative government intends to cut 600 jobs at Service Canada Processing Centers throughout the country. Budget cuts from the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development will bleed 300 more jobs from remote areas. Most of these jobs offer direct services to Canadians.
“How can the Minister pretend that these job losses will not affect the quality of services offered to Canadians?” asked Patry. “Many Canadians don’t have Internet access or the computer skills needed to complete these forms online. Each request is unique because it reflects the unique realities of workers and their families. Computerized systems simply cannot handled these nuances as well as agents working in processing centers can.”
In the next three years, many processing centers will close completely, decreasing the quality of services offered to Canadians, Patry warned.
“I understand that, in some cases, the computerization of services can be beneficial. However, we need to understand the reality of people who lose their jobs,” added Patry. “Losing your job is stressful enough as it is. It is often better for these workers to have direct contact with a real person, not a machine.”
Job losses in remote areas will also have in impact on local economies as unemployment rises and services supporting Employment Insurance applications decline. “This is a hard pill to swallow for Canadians in every single region that’s affected by this Conservative government manoeuvre,” concluded Claude Patry.