Ottawa does not respond, Montreal yes

Ottawa ne répond pas, Montréal oui

The Committee on unemployment of Montreal, the telephone lines do dérougissent not since last week. Left to themselves, many people put off because of the crisis of the COVID-19 do not know where to turn.

For simple cases, the registration on the internet at the employment Insurance seems to work. But everything derails when the cases get a little complicated. The inability to speak to an agent of the Insurance–employment in the telephone blocks the progression of requests.

It must be said that the situation is unprecedented. The Canadians filed nearly a million requests for employment insurance last week, never seen before in the history of the country.

Pierre Céré

The Newspaper has spent part of the day Monday in the premises of the Committee of unemployment of Montreal. The co-ordinator, Pierre Cere, and his colleague, Gabriel Pelletier, were overwhelmed with calls from the newly unemployed unable to obtain the information of Ottawa.

Gabriel Pelletier

Here is an overview of what we heard. We have hidden the identity of the workers, to protect the confidentiality of their case.

Call 1

Hope the money arrives

“We had the job, it was going well. And then, from one day to the next day, flang ! ”

The man at the other end of the wire is concerned. He worked in a field related to the insurance before being laid off suddenly two weeks ago because of the crisis of the COVID-19.

It has completed its online registration for the employment insurance, and would like to know when he will get his first payment, question to meet the needs of his family.

“In normal times, this is three to four weeks “, replied Gabriel Pelletier.

But, as it is not in normal times, it is impossible to give an estimate.

Then, it is said to hope that the money doesn’t take much to return.

Call 2

Seasonal worker

The young man on the phone is a seasonal worker. He explains that he is an employee of the municipality for a large part of the year and he gets unemployment benefits in the winter.

This spring, the municipality does not seem to have need of his services. In fact, nobody recalls it. He had to begin again in April. Her employment insurance benefits will then be exhausted. What to do ?

The Committee unemployment explains to him that he will probably be eligible for the allocation of emergency support from the federal government. But that is not certain. The details of the program will not be known until April.

Call 3


The young woman at the end of the wire is unlucky. She had to start working again last week, but his return has been cancelled due to the consequences of the COVID-19. She was unemployed since October.

Gabriel Pelletier eventually find a solution. The woman, discovers he suffers from a severe form of asthma, which could make it vulnerable to the COVID-19.

She might as well get an extension of her employment insurance benefits due to the disease. But there’s a catch ; for this, she needs to speak to an agent in the flesh and bone rather than via the internet.

The phone line employment insurance is constantly busy since last week.

Call 4

A scan ? Knows not !

The woman who called is relieved. The test for the COVID-19 that she took is negative. It is probably a pneumonia.

Once healed, she will not return to her job since she works in the restoration and that she has been laid off. However, to extend his or her judgment in illness, she must send his medical records to the insurance employment.

But you can not scan the document and send it by e-mail. Employment insurance, it has not yet arrived in the Twenty-first century ; it will have to send the document by post, it explains it, with all the delays that this entails in these uncertain times.

Call 5

Nothing easy…

The situation of this young traveller who calls seems simple. He has just returned from a three-month journey in Asia and it is therefore placed in voluntary isolation.

He was eligible for employment insurance since November, and his payments had been suspended because he was on a trip. Gabriel Pelletier explains to him that it should be sufficient to communicate by phone with an agent to reactivate his / her file.

But because of the congestion of the lines, his record remains in the plan for the moment. And it is impossible to do this via the internet.

Call 6

When the Committee does the work of Ottawa

Fortunately, the man at the other end of the wire has communicated with the Committee on unemployment. If he had not done so, he could very well miss an opportunity to have a bit of temporary work.

The man was working at the reception of the goods in a shopping centre. He was laid off at the end of last week. His wife, who has a job in a supermarket, he immediately said that his employer was looking for temporary staff.

The man was tempted by the idea.

“I’m not accustomed to finding myself in the house with nothing to do,” he says. However, he was afraid of losing her right to employment insurance benefits.

The Committee on unemployment, we reassured : he could accept a job as a temporary part-time and retain the right to its benefits. This information, the man, unfamiliar with the internet, would not have been able to obtain otherwise.

Call 7

In the nothingness

Sick since the beginning of march, the woman on the phone has made an application for sickness benefits for employment insurance.

At first glance, there is nothing wrong in her file, she should be entitled to benefits. But, for an unexplained reason, Ottawa is unable to process his request, finds the woman by accessing her file on the internet.

One solution : attach an official of the employment insurance to try to find the problem.

“Apart from continuing to call, there’s nothing else to do “, explains Gabriel Pelletier.

Lines always busy

In the last few days, it was impossible for The Log to get the communication to the insurance numbers-unemployment (in red), which have a crucial importance for the applicants.

  • 1 833 381-2725 : Line reserved for people who are affected in one way or another by the COVID-19
  • 1 800 808-6352 please : general Number of employment insurance
  • 514-933-5915 : Committee on unemployment of Montreal

The fund soon dry

At the rate things are going, and the first cheques are expected to come on 6 April, the cash will soon be in deficit.

According to our calculations, the 930 000 new applications submitted last week represent a paid weekly benefits of approximately $ 500 million.

At the beginning of the year, the fund insurance–employment, had a surplus of $ 4.9 billion. Within three months, at the current pace, the surplus should, therefore, be evaporated, according to our estimates.

But the increase in applications is certainly not over. It is expected that their number continues to explode in the next few weeks because of the new closures announced.

The surplus should then melt even more quickly. Once in deficit, the fund will have to be bailed out by the federal government.

– With Jean-François Gibeault

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