Who's Running Out of EI?

November 5, 2009, 9:10 AM EST

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The following letter was submitted to the Globe and Mail editor by CAW national staff representative, and Employment Insurance policy expert, Laurell Ritchie on October 27.

The letter was written in response to a story entitled "EI Data Don't Count Those Who Run Out" that appeared in the newspaper's Report on Business section on the same day. The full story is available at the following link:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/ei-data-dont-count-those-who-run-out/article1339141/

Dear Editor;

With a largely jobless recovery, more and more people must be running out of EI. But it seems only select government officials are trusted with the raw "exhaustee" data. That's wrong. Organizations chasing down this information for the last year have been told it's not reliable enough for posting but the huge implications for policy and program design should override those concerns.

The US Congress and Senate have responded with regular UI extensions, up to 92 weeks for some unemployed, as their data revealed an exhaustee rate escalating from 35.5% in January 2008 to 52.41% in September 2009.  The data is reported monthly on the Internet.

The last public data in Canada was for 2006-07 when 27.9% of regular EI claimants exhausted their benefits.  A lot has happened since.

We need to see the current numbers and have a public debate. We all pay in the end when people run out of EI before finding work. If they can't meet the stringent requirements for welfare, they'll look for other ways to survive - more credit card debt, moving in with relatives, skipping dental appointments and prescriptions, taking under the table employment, turning to crime.  And live lives of constant fear and worry.


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