Stop house calls in EI audit, union urges
Public Service Alliance of Canada concerned for workers' safety
The union that represents federal employees visiting Employment Insurance recipients at home is asking the federal government to stop the door-to-door visits because of concern for the workers' safety.
Jeannie Baldwin, the Atlantic regional executive vice-president for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said she's concerned about the safety of employees who are alone as they approach homes as part of an "examination" being conducted while the EI program undergoes an overhaul.
"They're working alone, they're out there, people don't know who these people are," she said.
"People are kind of wary right now when you have strangers knocking on their door."
Wednesdays with @Kady
Today and every Wednesday the online team in the Parliamentary bureau hosts a live chat: "Wednesdays with @Kady." Join CBC Politics blogger Kady O'Malley at 2 p.m. AT with your point of view on the employment insurance debate.
Baldwin said she knows of four confirmed Public Service Alliance of Canada workers who have been tasked with visiting EI recipients in Nova Scotia and hand out invitations, in person, to appear at EI interviews as part of the project.
One worker is in Sydney, one is on the South Shore of Nova Scotia and two are likely in the Halifax Regional Municipality, she said.
The Canadian Employment and Immigration Union, meanwhile, has said more than 40 "integrity officers" with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada have been tasked with making the house calls in Nova Scotia.
Hundreds of inspectors are knocking on doors to hand-deliver notices to 1,200 claimants across Canada.
Baldwin said the situation is "volatile" because many EI recipients are already on edge about the changes to the program and seasonal workers fear their benefits might be cancelled.
"Here in the Atlantic region there's been an uproar and resistance to this change and we really feel that health and safety is at risk for our members so we're asking Diane Finley to suspend the house calls until the EI changes are reviewed, especially while this situation remains so volatile," she told CBC News.
"There's a lot of anxiety. People are worried, they're nervous. They're a little bit nervous of, what do they do when they have these strangers knocking on their door?"
Don Rogers, the national president of the Canadian Employment and Immigration Union, said he wrote to the federal government recently requesting an end to the house calls project.
He said regional vice presidents have told him the federal government is "winding down" on the visits.
"The department responded in kind in that they stopped the house calls on the northern peninsula for the most part in New Brunswick, not elsewhere," Rogers told CBC News.
"I need to tell you, that particular project is winding down. They are pretty much in the last week of it, so I'm told."