On Sept. 13, 74 of the 88 employees at Service Canada’s call centre in Bathurst, N.B., learned their hours of work are being reduced to part-time. And, 26 of the 42 workers in a call centre in St. John’s got the same bad news. The reason everyone was given for such a drastic reduction? Insufficient funding.
These reductions came as a shock to workers, because they all know first-hand that Service Canada call centres need more full-time staff, not fewer. Even now, only 30 per cent of calls meet service standards. And that’s not because workers aren’t good at what they do. It’s because there is more work than there are staff to do it. This reduction stands to compromise the call centres’ ability to answer calls by another 25 per cent.
We should also be concerned that these cuts are restricted to Atlantic Canada.
Currently, across Canada there are roughly 330,000 EI claims waiting for processing. Of those 200,000 are more than 29 days old.
In Atlantic Canada, 30,000 workers are waiting for decisions on their claims and 15,000 of those claims have exceeded the 29-day standard that Service Canada sets for itself.
When hours of work are reduced and when jobs are cut, Canadians don’t just stop applying for employment insurance.
There should be more hiring at Service Canada — I’m talking full-time jobs, so that Canadians can get the help they need to access the insurance system they pay into. No one can afford to wait when you have a family to feed, rent to pay, school books to buy. No one.
So why not contact Jason Kenney (firstname.lastname@example.org), minister of Employment and Social Development? He needs to hear that
all Canadians, including Atlantic Canadians, are entitled to service from Service Canada.
Atlantic Regional executive vice-president
Public Service Alliance of Canada