Canada Employment and Immigration Union -
August 26, 2011

Changes to EI processing threaten jobs in communities across Canada

A clearer picture of job losses in communities across the country is emerging as a result of Service Canada’s plans for EI processing and call centres. In a teleconference call involving senior management figures and the CEIU National Executive, it was confirmed that 120 processing locations would be reduced to 19 over the next three years, a huge blow for smaller communities and the workers involved. Specialized call centres will drop from 14 to 12.

In the teleconference, CEIU National President Jeannette Meunier-McKay pressed the department for additional details regarding the affected sites and the number of staff involved at each. “Members and their communities deserve to know precisely what they are facing,” said Meunier-McKay, “and when they know, they will have have something to say to the federal government.” Service Canada has undertaken to provide this information to the union.

The union will be taking its message to MP’s whose ridings face job losses. The technology exists to keep claims processing jobs in smaller and isolated communities. Staff in these areas are every bit as productive as employees elsewhere in the country, and their salaries support the local economy.

In broad terms, approximately 600 positions across the country will be affected over the next three years. Management maintains that the reductions can be accomplished through “attrition, reassignment and retraining”, but the net effect is fewer jobs in almost 100 communities across the country. And while it is encouraging to hear that lay-offs are not part of management’s current plans, only the details of “attrition, reassignment and retraining” will tell how much optimism is warranted.

The employer has not recognized these changes as triggering a Workforce Adjustment (WFA) situation but the union, based on the information available, sees the matter differently. Under the Workforce Adjustment provisions of the collective agreement, affected staff would have clearly defined rights as compared with the Vacancy Management Committee system that Service Canada has put in place to deal with the staff reductions. The union will challenge the employer on the matter of Workforce Adjustment.

In the weeks ahead, locals are urged to discuss the cuts with MP’s, municipal leaders and local media. A special section on the union’s national website will contain material to support the “Better Service: Time’s Running Out!” campaign, and additional assistance for locals will be available from National Executive members across the country.

“These cuts, and others the government may consider, will be challenged through increased political action by the union,” said National President Jeannette Meunier-McKay, “because our jobs, our communities and the services valued by Canadians are at serious risk.”


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