New survey shows EI reforms hurting the public, workers

A recent survey of Service Canada’s front line workers in Quebec paints a troubling picture of frustrated clients and poor morale for workers due to drastic changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program.

The survey was conducted by the Quebec region of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU), a component of PSAC.

Most of the Client Service Agents who responded to the survey say that:

  • their ability to provide quality service to the public is suffering
  • they have lost confidence in the organization because of frequent program and operational changes
  • they feel rushed and don’t have time to provide one-on-one service
  • low morale, heavy workload and the work climate is causing exhaustion and sickness
  • clients are getting more aggressive and even violent in some cases

Despite these problems, many workers say that their main motivation at work is to provide good client service.

Client services deteriorating

The service agents are told by managers not to deal directly with many client questions, but to refer them to the toll-free phone line or website instead. Workers say this policy prevents them from being able to provide good face-to-face service, causing delays for the public in getting timely assistance.

 “This survey shows the negative impact of staff cuts and program changes,” said Steve McCuaig, CEIU National President, “Although it was conducted in only one region, the results reflect what we’ve been hearing from our members across the country.”

Similar trend in the public service

A recent survey of all federal public service workers shows a similar trend - workers feeling that their ability to deliver quality public services is suffering due to cutbacks.

Changes to Employment Insurance

In the past number of years, the federal government has made many reforms to EI. These changes have resulted in fewer Canadians being able to access EI. At the same time, public service job cuts and changes to front line service delivery mean that EI recipients face delays accessing the help they need.

The union is discussing the survey results with management at Service Canada and hope they will take heed of the results.

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February 17, 2015
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