Service Canada Delays: A Caregiver at the End of Its Resource

A woman from Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, near Quebec, who has taken leave for her caregiver, has deplored the delay in processing her work insurance applications.

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Natalie Paquet has temporarily quit her job as a nurse to take care of her mother-in-law, who has cancer. 48 days after she submitted her request to extend her leave, she still has not received a response from Service Canada.

“I call and they are unable to tell me when they can help me or when my request is being processed. All I have been told is that I am on a waiting list,” explains Ms. Paquet.

Hence, to her medical appointments and managing her mother-in-law’s treatments is added the suffering caused by her financial situation.

“I’m tired of everything else without extra pressure. I feel helpless, I don’t feel the support of my government, I think it’s boring.”

Lacking an answer, she will have to succumb to the call of relatives to manage her next bills.

Service Canada explains these delays through the complexity of certain files, cases related to fraud and by COVID-19.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic and more specifically since the transition from CERB to employment insurance, Service Canada has processed a much higher number of employment insurance applications. In addition, summer is one of the peak periods for employment insurance.

“It has become to some extent the daily life of the unemployment labor organization in Quebec,” explains rights advocate, Selma Lavoie.

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The organization is increasingly dealing with files related to delays in the processing of employment insurance applications.

“It has become fairly common for people to wait 3 to 6 months,” adds Ms. Lavoie.

In some cases, these are very critical situations according to the organization, which says it sees people waiting for benefits have to turn to food banks or lose their housing altogether.

“It is really shocking to see that there is no system that is supposed to be the social safety net for the population and that people are suffering the consequences.”

Quebec Bloc MPs Julie Vignola and Caroline Despin have also had to come to the aid of many people in similar situations.

“We have treated 150 cases so far,” Ms. Despens says.

It is urging the government to act.

“What we urgently want from Bloc Québécois is to hire new employment insurance agents,” said Beauport member – Côte-de-Beaupré—le d’Orléans – Charlevoix.

According to Service Canada, the standard is to send notifications of payment or non-payment within 28 days of placing an order. From April 1 to June 30, 2022, 71% of benefit claims could have been processed within this time frame.

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