Town hosting workshop about EI and local supports

·3 min read

Service Canada will be sharing general information on how to apply and what to expect when it comes to Employment Insurance (EI) during a regional virtual workshop.

The workshop is hosted through the Town of Hinton on Friday, March 12, 2021 at 9 am.

Karen Knull, a Citizen Services Specialist with Service Canada, will go over how to apply, what to expect from EI benefits, how much an individual can receive, as well as some of the Canada Recovery Benefits offered by the Canada Revenue Agency.

The last virtual EI workshop in Hinton was roughly two weeks ago, and not very well attended, explained Mayor Marcel Michaels. They hope this second workshop will attract more participants.

“Obviously with Bighorn and the economy and the COVID-19 situation, there are many people who have or might have to use EI who are not familiar with it and it’s not the easiest process,” Michaels said.

The nice thing about the workshop is that people have a chance to ask questions, Michaels said, rather than struggling to find the exact information they’re looking for on a website.

Knull will break down the experience of applying, what individuals need to know, and how to maintain those benefits.

Michaels noted from the last workshop that to maintain benefits there is a big emphasis on job searching and the importance of keeping a record of that job search.

“Applying for jobs, just documenting everything and keeping that to prove you are looking for a job is extremely important,” Michaels said.

One other interesting part talked about at the last session was temporary versus permanent layoffs, he added. Both types of layoffs need to be treated equally in terms of job searching and that job searching aspect is still important even with a temporary layoff.

“If it’s a temporary layoff you have to still go through the motions where you are looking for work in order to continue receiving EI even if there is light at the end of the tunnel that you can possibly get your job back,” Michaels said.

When it comes to the benefits, not everyone makes the same wage or salary, which impacts the EI benefits they receive, Michaels said. These are all things that will be explained during the workshop.

Participants will be able to ask questions that may not be readily available on the website.

The workshop allows everyone to feel more comfortable with the process around EI, something that many people have never experienced before, Michaels said.

It can be a stressful time for many people and to go on a government website with a lot of literature can make the situation more frustrating, he added.

This workshop allows individuals to have direct connection to an EI specialist that can answer questions and help people become aware of issues that may arise.

Michaels said that many people have reached out and asked about the EI process prior to this.

“Especially with what we’re going through right now with the application at the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and Coalspur. It’s a pressing issue within our community, but it’s not exclusive to Coalspur. It’s really a greater concern within our province and country right now,” Michaels said.

A lot of people are unemployed and wondering how the economy is going to be rebuilt in the coming years, he added.

Several service providers will share information on local employment supports available during the workshop as well.

Anyone is welcome to participate via Zoom on Friday, March 12, at 9:00 am and no registration is required.

Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice