Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Flaw in online EI application process: need to go in person

This was brought to my attention by the Rural Canadian, information that needs to be circulated to anyone presently engaged with the EI process, particularly the online one. From his letter to Minister Diane Finley:
I draw your attention to a major flaw in the on-line Employment Insurance application and reporting system which is causing unnecessary hardship and angst amongst many of the thousands of recently laid off workers.

Many workers have chosen to apply for EI using the on line web site provided and this process is reasonably easy and straight forward. After filing we receive a letter by mail acknowledging receipt of our application and saying it is being processed, calls to the 800 line after filing our by-weekly reports say the same thing.

Unfortunately this is NOT the case, after waiting many weeks and having still not received any payment we discovered (from discussions with other EI recipients) that it is a requirement to visit the local EI office IN PERSON before any application can be processed. This process took just a few minutes once we were aware that it was necessary and made the drive to the nearest office.

The problem is that there is no indication that this visit is necessary on ANY of the paperwork received or on ANY of the on line instructions and guidance viewed when applying or filing reports. An applicant using the on-line system simply is left thinking that the EI application is being processed and that funds will be forthcoming, is in fact told that on-line, on the 800 line and by mail when in fact it is actually stalled until such time as they personally visit the EI office.
Tatttered Sleeve identified the problem as well:
I have to personally visit my local Service Canada Centre, Record of Employment in hand, during business hours in order to get the ball rolling. And here I had assumed (because there is nothing on their website saying as such, nor in the letter they mailed to me) that I could enter the information online, thus saving a federal employee from carrying out this task manually.
Hopefully the government actors in question are taking steps to amend the online instructions accordingly.