Many Islanders have been waiting for weeks for their employment insurance claims to be processed and some have decided they can't wait any longer and have been looking for social assistance.

Several people waiting for EI have told CBC News that they've actually been told by Service Canada agents that they should consider applying for social assistance until their EI comes in.

EI is a federal program; the province runs social assistance.

No one with the province was willing to do an interview Wednesday, but a spokesperson said the government is getting enquiries from people waiting for their EI. But there hasn't been a spike in the number of applications.

The wait for EI is supposed to be no more than four weeks.

CBC News talked to one man who's been waiting two and a half months.

Toff Curtis said he was finally ready a couple days ago to consider social assistance.

"I have two little girls, we had an OK Christmas, it wasn't the greatest," Curtis said. "My oldest daughter went to school the first day and they were discussing what they got for Christmas ... and all she could say was that she got some books and a few other little things."

"How do you think that made me feel?" Curtis added, visibly upset.

Curtis was told by Service Canada he should have a decision on his EI application Thursday, so he's held off on applying for social assistance.

"When I was a child, we were on social assistance most of my life, I felt like a second-class citizen, and I never wanted my children to be on it," he said. "That's how bad things have gotten."

The provincial government did say most people waiting for EI wouldn't actually qualify for welfare, at least not until they'd exhausted all their assets.

However, anyone who did get social assistance would have to pay the money back, once their EI finally comes in.