EI system is broken
It’s taken me 10 years or so, but I finally get it. I finally get why the federal government changed the name of UI, or unemployment insurance, to EI, or employment insurance. If you recall, the official message was that the term “unemployment” carried with it a somewhat negative connotation, whereas, by removing the extremely negative prefix of “un,” those receiving unemployment benefits wouldn’t feel so bad about not working.
It stands to reason that if you can remove certain societal stigmas attached to your circumstances, you can begin to feel better about yourself, and maybe, just maybe, things will begin to improve. If that’s so, then the advertisers of that “un-cola” didn’t get the memo.
The government message was actually designed to keep consistently employed workers from realizing that changing the name of the program to “employment insurance” is a more accurate way to describe an insurance plan that long- term, full- time workers pay for that they never use.
Nothing really wrong with that. A socialdemocratic country with a conscience should have a plan in place that can provide an economic bridge for employable people who, perhaps through no fault of their own, find themselves unemployed from time to time. What we didn’t plan for was an economic bridge that has become an unsupportable, four-lane highway with too much traffic. Can you even build a bridge without some connection to the land at either end?
There was a time I had to avail of unemployment insurance, so I’m not just shooting in the dark. It was in 1975, after I got out of the navy while during a recession, in a job market where the only apparent skill-set I possessed at the time was monitoring Russ- ian submarine traffic.
Demand for that experience was at an all-time low. It’s even lower now. I was not even able to get a job pumping gas, which, by now, is about as rare a skill-set as monitoring Russian submarine traffic. Pity. In order to get my weekly unemployment cheque, I had to stand in line at the unemployment office, talk to a counsellor and provide details about jobs I had applied for the previous week, then review all the job postings they had to see if I was eligible to apply.
I wasn’t long availing of another government program called veteran’s assistance to get my butt in school, in order to learn something other than monitoring submarine traffic, Russian or otherwise. The rest is just more history.