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HRSDC Minister Diane Finley blames her own staff for poor service

Media Release
Service Canada Cornwall

HRSDC Minister Diane Finley blames her own staff for poor service
Minister Diane Finley is blaming the workers in her own organization of deliberately cutting back on services. Staff at Service Canada all across the Nation are furious over her latest public statement. We've been trying so hard to adjust to all these changes and for the Minister to basically wrongly accuse its own staff in order to pass the buck is very wrong.
PHOTO CREDIT - Submitted Photo

Cornwall - December 4, 2011 - Minister Diane Finley is blaming the workers in her own organization of deliberately cutting back on services. Staff at Service Canada all across the Nation are furious over her latest public statement. "We've been trying so hard to adjust to all these changes and for the Minister to basically wrongly accuse its own staff in order to pass the buck is very wrong". Our members are outraged and rightfully angry over this unjust attitude. There is no work-to-rule campaign going on.

In fact, Service Canada is in the midst of streamlining EI, consolidating 120 sites into 22 centres across Canada over the next three years. Departments have been ordered to deliver two cost-saving plans, one with cuts of five percent and another with cuts of 10 percent. The government took the unusual step of tying the performance of senior bureaucrats to how well they deliver savings. It also hired high-prized consulting giant, Deloitte - at 90,000 a day - to advise them on how to achieve savings and improve efficiency. More than 1,000 processing agents have been let go since the spring. Even though the jobless rate went up last month, Service Canada's work force is expected to decline even further as Human Resources and Skills Development Canada trims costs to meet deficit reduction targets. Thus the lines at Service Canada which are already jammed with anxious EI claimants are likely to get even busier.

Every Canadian uses Service Canada. It's where we all go for services like renewing passports, or applying for maternity, pension or unemployment benefits.

Minister Diane Finley is throwing the most vital people of her organization under the bus says one of my member at Lionel-Chevrier Service Canada Office in Cornwall.

Internal government documents reveal that in September, nearly a third of the people who called Service Canada about E.I last month eventually hung up because they could not speak to someone in a timely manner. Furthermore, in the final week more than half of the people who called about the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age security reached nothing but a busy signal. There are over 130 employees at Service Canada Call centre in Cornwall that would attest it, trust me.

In addition, the number of jobless Canadians who managed to connect with an agent when they called Service Canada looking for their employment insurance cheques reached its lowest level in six years this fall.

Unfortunately, Minister Finley was far too quick to cut positions on the premise that automation would compensate. The automated system has been in place for five years and most people already try to file their claim on line. Indeed! Less than 50 percent of claims can be handled without an employee involved.

Losing your job is stressful enough as it is. Thus, it is often better for these workers to have direct contact with a real person, not a machine. Adversely, the so-called strategic cuts or the modernization mean more dependency on the web site, leaving those who don't have or use technology without access.

In 2005-06, 58 per cent of the calls about E.I from across Canada actually made it through to an agent. By September of this year, that had dropped to 32 per cent. Lately a lot of Canadians have found access anything but easy. Call-back timelines have been increased from two to five days because staff is so busy. Service Canada employees can rarely meet the 28-day goal in which claimants are supposed to hear whether they qualify for payments. Workers are now dealing with "dire straits" cases much more often.

At last - to add insult to injury - Service Canada employees have to keep mum on the complaints office. They have been told lately by their bosses not to mention the existence of the office of client satisfaction to the frustrated people on the other end of line. Long live to public services!

Canada Employment Immigration Union
Local 621 President
Mario Leclerc


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