EI blues

So as I got laid off, I qualify for EI. Which is great — I’ve been paying into it for a while, why not get something back? And it’s pretty straightforward what I want. I want EI to help me kickstart my own business. They have all sorts of programs to do this, according to their website. There appears to be only one caveat: you’re not actually able to do any work for the first 3 months of EI, even if you wanted to. Why? Because they require you to take 10-12 weeks of full-time courses. I’d assumed that in a business-enabling program, they’d recognize that taking 3 months off is not always an option. And of course, if you don’t do the program, and you happen to be making just enough to squeak by, you can’t get EI. So you’re in this kind of catch-22.

To boot, I’ve had no end of troubles using the system. It’s totally geared towards people going back to work for someone else. Depsite many protestations to supporting the entrepreneur, enter in on Teledec that you’re self-employed, and suddenly you have to talk to a person. This person will take your info, hem and haw, and then declare that she’ll have to check whether you’re still eligible for EI (because likely, you make at least $100/week, which is too much).

There’s also, supposedly, programs geared for youth that I qualify for. However, most of these entail small-business loans that I don’t want. I’d take a grant to help me get started, sure, but I don’t want to go into debt to start my business. What if it fails? Then I’m hooped!

To top all this off, today has been a particularly bad experience: I had to talk to someone on the phone. I got shunted from automated system to automated system to voice mail. Finally, I get told this ‘The call centre is currently closed. Our hours of operation are Monday to Friday, 8am to 4:25pm’. I check my clock: 8:15 am. So I call back a little later. And then a little later still. Finally, at 9:45, I get through to a person, who seemed somewhat confused as to why I thought that someone would be there at 8am. She of course, after the afore-mentioned hemming & hawing, tells me to call this Employment Access Centre. Which I do. They tell me that I’ve 2 weeks from my claim’s start date to get a hold of them (which is apparently completely untrue, I’ve since learned). So I rush off to this resource centre, having been told that it might take 6 hours to get through everything. Once I get there, it’s totally empty, to the point that no one can help me. So I fill out a form, and now have an appointment for sometime in Mid-April, in which they’ll probably tell me that they can’t help me, and I won’t be getting any EI, and will be left to my own devices. And to top it all off, they made me miss this lecture that I really wanted to attend over at ECIAD.

It’s things like this that make me want to say whatever it is they want to hear so I can get some money to fund my next development cycle