Friday, August 21, 2009


So I'm back on the pogey again. Nearly four years to the day I last applied for it, when I first hit Nunavut in 2005, I finally seem to have all the kinks worked out. I did the "Yes, Yes, Yes, No, Yes" like a dutiful person. This certainly isn't my first time on EI in my life. I was on and off it during my 20s. And I've never liked being on it. Back then, it was always stressful, seemingly needlessly complicated and you always felt like you were a terrible person for having to go and file a claim. As if there was something damaged in you that prevented you from getting a real job like everyone else.

Plus, every time I put in a claim, I always got the Wonderful Grand Band's "UIC" stuck in my head for days. Shockingly, the video for "UIC" isn't online. Actually, I thought for sure there would be a bunch of Wonderful Grand Band clips on Youtube, but if there are, I can't find them.

Anyway, "UIC" stood for Unemployment Insurance Cheque. Years ago the feds changed it to Employment Insurance, thereby ruining a perfectly clever song. The chorus, which is stuck in my brain forever, went:

"And it's you I see
standing in the long line,
You I see, waiting for a cheque
It's you I see thinking you're going to have a great time
but three months later you're a nervous wreck."

Or perhaps you just have to be from Newfoundland and Labrador to appreciate it.

Anyway, compared to some of my previous experiences with trying to get employment (or unemployment) insurance, this was astonishingly free of hassles. There had been previous times when I felt like murdering the person I was dealing with or leaving the building and walking out in front of a car to rid the world of my worthless existence.

But this time, dead easy. My last employer actually emailed my Record of Employment to the feds, so I didn't have to mess around with that (I remember nearly having to strangle one former employer to get it). Then I filed for my claim online, which was dead simple. When Canada Post didn't deliver the necessary PIN in time, I called the feds, they gave me a temporary one, which allowed me to take care of the last necessary details. And no waiting for a cheque to show up in the mail, it'll be direct deposited into my account. I should get my first cheque in a little over a week's time (you don't get any more for the first two weeks of your claim, for whatever reason).

So that's good. Nice and stress-free. But I think the other thing that certainly helps was that the previous times I applied for EI there was a tremendous amount of uncertainty. Certainly in my 20s, when I was fresh out of university and had no clue about what I was going to do next. Even the last time I applied in '05 had some uncertainty because I had just moved to Nunavut, I was switching careers and not 100 per cent sure it was going to work.

This time, well, perhaps it's cocky, but I think I'll have something landed by the end of October. So it's nice to have the maximum EI and to know I'm solid for the next 50 weeks. However, I'll be shocked if I have to dip into even a fraction of that money.

Although I will say one thing - maximum EI won't get you far for long up here. If you had to make do with that in Iqaluit, let alone some other places in Nunavut, you'd be cutting it pretty tight at the end of the month, once rent, food and utilities were taken care of. I'll be able to cover my share, but that's about it. No more splurges at Chapters for awhile.

Thank god for a loving and understanding wife...

Last Five
1. Light in the tunnel - Red Rider
2. Undercover of the night - Rolling Stones
3. MLK - U2
4. Train song - Feist and Ben Gibbard
5. Vox - Sarah Mclachlan


WJM said...

Unemployment Insurance Commission

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