With Employment Insurance running out in January for many former employees at Peace River Coal, it’s time to make sure everyone uses all their available resources.
Last week at the Community Centre, a representative of Service Canada was here to inform residents about their services. There were general info sessions, as well as two sessions providing more specific information to both seniors and businesses.
The sessions were originally set up in response to a need for seniors to be given the opportunity to find out which benefits they may be entitled to, and what specific programs and services apply to them personally, but expanded based on the perceived need in the community.
At the first drop in session, held on Tuesday, March 15, eight people attended. There were beverages and snacks provided by the Library, catered by Action Play Cafe.
Emily Herring-Cooper gave information on how to access Service Canada. There are three ways to contact Service Canada, she says. Call 1-800-OCANADA, or go online at servicecanada.gc.ca, or stop by the Service Canada office near you. The office closest to Tumbler Ridge is in Dawson Creek, and is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 until 4 pm.
“Service Canada offices are your one stop shop for federal government programs.” Says Herring-Cooper. People at offices don’t make the decisions, but they help clients by giving information and provide support for people who are looking into benefits or programs that may be available to them.
As far as the Internet is concerned, Herring-Cooper says the Canadian government is implementing a new website for all Canadian programs. Currently there is an existing Service Canada website which is www.servicecanada.ca, but these are being migrated to Canada.ca.
“At the bottom of the website, there is a search bar for anything that you might be looking for on our website,” says Herring-Cooper. “Once you get to know our website, it’s a really good resource”
Putting in your own personal information into the search bar will result in Federal and Provincial government programs that may apply to your situation are automatically detected.
With a My Service Canada account you can print off your T4 slips and Canada pension old age security forms. The account will give you up to date info on what you have paid into CPP over the years.
“Everybody should have a My Service Canada account” she says. “It can even tell you what your death and survivor benefits may be based on your information. You can also change your address here.”
Some service Canada Centres serve as passport agents. The closest Service Canada office that offers services for passports is in Grande Prairie, AB.
Other Services that can be found on the Service Canada website include: employment services, job bank, mass layoffs, record of employment, work sharing agreements, services for aboriginals, families, seniors, youth, and self employed people. It also provides information on Canada Student Loans, and apprenticeship grants.
One attendee asked about Employment Insurance extensions, mentioning that most of the people who went on EI when the mines closed have run out of benefits.
“Before you use all your savings, apply for income support” she says. “And if you need help applying for social assistance, library staff can help with your application.”
“We are lobbying everybody that we can to get them to realize the plight of coal miners” another attendee said. “What we should be doing is calling Bob Zimmer, or Mike Bernier. Mike has the premier’s ear now because he is currently the minister of education. Make noise.”
Cooper warned those in attendance to “Clean up your social media. Be very careful about what you do on social media.” She says potential employers might be checking your Facebook page as part of the hiring process.