When you can’t afford to buy, unemployment insurance helps, but only for the unemployed
A jobseeker in his 20s has a $500-a-week income, but he has no health insurance.
He knows he won’t be able to buy food or fuel for his family in a few weeks.
His insurance is about to expire.
But he still can’t find a job.
He is among more than half a million people across Canada who lack health insurance, and they’re particularly vulnerable to cuts.
So far this year, the federal government has been running out of money for jobless benefits, even though it expects the economy to grow at 2.3 per cent this year.
Many of those in the jobless pool don’t know when their benefits will run out.
With no other choice, they’re turning to an insurance program that has helped many of them escape hardship.
But it has been less effective at covering people who can’t pay for their own bills.
That’s because the government only covers those who are in arrears.
“I’ve never been to a job interview where I didn’t feel like I was in trouble, because I was still paying the rent and paying for the groceries,” said Brian Brouillette, who was laid off from a construction job in December after spending more than three years in a job he liked.
The government is also trying to keep costs down, using the money to reduce a portion of the unemployment insurance rate, so people don’t have to rely on government assistance.
The Ontario Job Centre of Ontario is running a survey to find out how much money people in the province can afford.
The survey has so far collected about 10,000 responses.
Many are unemployed for more than two years, and the survey is a critical step in determining how much help people will receive if they do get a job, said Sarah Fuchs, the centre’s director.
“We’re trying to determine what people are looking for,” she said.
The job centre has also been working with people in their 30s and 40s to help them find jobs, which can cost anywhere from $30 to $80 a week.
Some are trying to save money by saving money in their savings account, but they’re also having to juggle work and school.
“That’s not going to go away any time soon,” said Fuchs.
“People are going to have to make a decision.”
The job center has also developed a system for helping people find jobs that can help pay bills, and to make sure they get paid when their bills are paid.
The province also has plans to expand a job-training program to people who have been out of work for six months or more, and help people with chronic conditions get job training.
But the system isn’t as simple as it used to be, said Fergus Kibbey, a senior vice-president at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents about 500,000 small and medium-sized businesses.
“The labour market has changed so much over the last decade that it’s difficult for employers to know where to find the workers they need,” Kibbeck said.
In his first year in office, Stephen Harper was asked whether he’d try to reduce unemployment insurance.
“If you’re out of a job for six weeks, you can get benefits, but you’re not eligible for unemployment,” he replied.
“And that’s what’s happening right now.”
The Liberal government has promised to make up the lost money by providing more financial help to people in arresars, and by increasing payments to those who can pay their bills.
The NDP, on the other hand, has said it would increase the amount that workers in arrenarages are eligible for benefits.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” said NDP MPP Nathan Cullen, who represents the region of Barrie.
“This is a big hole to fill.”
For a long time, unemployment benefits were designed to help people find a good job when they got laid off.
But over the past decade, the government has cut back on those benefits and has also created a new, much smaller program to help those who aren’t working but can afford to pay the bills.
A new program, called the job-ready pension, pays workers a set amount each month to cover their living expenses, and it doesn’t cover medical bills.
“They’re not making it clear they’re making these people jobs,” said Cullen.
The Liberals are also considering making permanent a program that lets people who’ve been out for two years or more get a $1,000 lump sum payment, and give them access to social assistance.
For some people, that could help offset the cost of paying their bills, Cullen said.
But for others, it could be a barrier to getting a job because they don’t qualify for unemployment insurance, or can’t work because they’re unemployed.