Nova Scotia

EI call centres in N.S., P.E.I. to be downsized

Service Canada is moving to consolidate its Employment Insurance processing and call centres which means that some will be reduced to a barebones operation.

Service Canada is moving to consolidate its Employment Insurance processing and call centres which means that some will be reduced to a barebones operation.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents Service Canada employees, says it obtained an email suggesting the centres in Sydney and Glace Bay, N.S., Montague, P.E.I., and Vancouver will all but close.

"What we've been told is that there's going to be a small frontline service where a person can go in and probably file a claim," Jeannie Baldwin, the union's Atlantic Region vice-president, said.

"But they won't be able to see anybody, they won't be able to be given the service that they are provided right now."

Service Canada said the move is part of an ongoing effort to streamline and automate the EI process.

That means more filing online and less manual labour behind the scenes with processing centralized at 22 locations, down from the current 120 sites.

Employees were informed of the plan Friday. About 60 positions will be cut at the Glace Bay call centre, 40 in Sydney and 30 at the Montague office.

But, Baldwin said any job losses will be devastating for the smaller communities.

"Very well-paying jobs in that community will no longer be there and neither will that service," she said.

Regional Service Canada directors are expected to provide employees with more details about the plan Monday, Baldwin said.

Alyson Queen, spokeswoman for the office of federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, said there should be few layoffs as a result of the restructuring.

"There will be changes again to the number of employees involved, but we will be working to ensure impacts will be minimized primarily through attrition, reassignment of employees and training them for different roles," she said.

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