Union halts home visits to EI recipients
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 6:52PM AST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 26, 2013 7:16PM AST
The union that represents Service Canada integrity workers – or the so-called ‘pogey police’ – says they shouldn’t be going door-to-door to check up on employment insurance recipients.
Federal employees have been making unannounced visits at the homes of EI recipients as part of an audit as the program undergoes changes, but the house calls are making for some uncomfortable moments.
“It’s very demeaning to people that are applying for or are on EI,” says Michel Richard of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union.
He says the home visits amount to an attack on the privacy of those in need of help and that they are being disguised as part of the reforms.
“They don’t want to admit that there are quotas to find, for example, cases of fraud, as what they perceive as fraud, to cut on these elements.”
Changes to the employment insurance program are impacting communities where seasonal economies prevail, in particular small towns and villages that rely on fisheries and summer tourism or agriculture.
In places like Shediac, N.B., frustration is mounting over the changes and the head of the union representing integrity officers in the Maritimes feels Ottawa has put them in a no-win situation.
“We’ve known that there have been incidents where a person became injured - when I say injured, they fell and hurt themselves while they were on the job - the others are finding it so stressful they’re off on sick leave,” says Jeannie Baldwin, regional executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
CTV News attempted to speak with people entering a Service Canada location today, but they were all reluctant to voice their opinion on the matter.
However, hundreds of people are expected to attend a rally Wednesday, denouncing the recent changes to the EI program.
Public Service Alliance officials say home visits to EI recipients are being halted in some communities in northern New Brunswick due to the backlash.
Meanwhile, those who rely on the program are hoping better days are ahead.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell