Marlene Giersdorf: The new face of EI reform

by Aaron Wherry

A single mother in Montague, Prince Edward Island has apparently been denied EI benefits because she can’t get to Charlottetown and her story has apparently struck a chord in PEI. The National Post talks to her.

Q: Why don’t you apply in Charlottetown?
A: I could probably make a living in Charlottetown, but due to the fact that I do only rely on family and close, close, close friends that I don’t have a lot of, I’d be ruined personally. And my child, I fought tooth and nail with my ex to have him go to Montague [Consolidated School]. If I relocated into Charlottetown, who’s going to drive all the way from Montague to drive me in the summertime, when my son’s not in school, to pick him up? You know, I have 50/50 custody. I would have no transportation whatsoever, I would have to rely on cabs.

Q: If you were to get a job in Charlottetown that paid well, would you be able to get a car?
A: No. I wouldn’t be able to even make it to the job to make enough money to get a car. And if I was hired on in Charlottetown I’d have to refuse the job because I wouldn’t be able to guarantee that I could get to my shifts everyday.




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Marlene Giersdorf: The new face of EI reform

  1. This comment was deleted.

    • Q: Have you had EI before?
      A: Yes. Five or six times maybe. Most of it’s all sick benefits from when I needed a break and then switched onto regular benefits until I could find a job and yes, I did find a job.|

      I need a break too.

      • Are you a single mom on PEI too then?

        • Probably not…most people have more sense than to become one. Oops, I forgot: “People are so JUDGEMENTAL!!!”

          • You have planned for yourself the perfect life, I take it. I wish you luck with that.

        • Don’t you judge me for judging!

          • :)

    • Buy an ad.

    • It’s a kindly thought but obscures the problem. This person isn’t a chronic welfare bum. She’s exactly the kind of person EI was designed to help why they look for work.
      This govts attitude and inflexibility is going to eventually cost it dearly in Easten Canada in terms of seats. The CPC… The party of the stupid and heartless.

      • If you are unemployed in a rural community with few jobs, and the capital city is an hour away with lots of open jobs, what is the logical solution? Pack your bags. The government has every right to expect this woman to move.

        • City has higher cost of living….apartments, transportation, taxes, day care….

          Drastic solution to what may be a short term problem.

          • Seeing how she’s been on EI 6 times by the age of 30, several times because she needed “a break”, it’s unlikely this is a short term problem.

            Oh, and as an “economist” you might think to also mention that salaries and wages are higher in cities. But then again, you don’t seem to be a very GOOD “economist”.

          • Higher wages in cities also mean higher costs….like the people who make ‘big money’ in Alberta….and have to sleep in their vehicles.

            PEI runs on potatoes, lobsters and tourists….all of which are seasonal.

            And EI….is a paid benefit

          • Please tell me why Canadians in provinces that have proved able to build functional economies should subsidize, on apparently a permanent basis, those who haven’t–especially when the failure seems to come more from a lack of effort and diversification than anything else.

            If the work you have is seasonal, you save for the lean season, just as any farmer stores food for the winter. EI was meant to provide assistance to people temporarily and occasionally out of work, not to prop up seasonal economies.

            “Sleeping in their vehicles.” Oh, please. I’m surprised you didn’t add the part about licking the grease off of used burger wrappers.

          • What you mean is that not everyone has lived the same life as you have, and not everyone is in the same circumstances….shocking but true.

            People pay into EI….so it’s there when they need it.

          • And yet more people seem to be able to make a go of it in the city than in the country. Emily, obstacles are challenges to be overcome, not excuses to be cited in defence of inaction.

          • That’s a lovely sentiment for your car bumper.

          • How did you get to be so self-righteous?

          • He’s an Albertan

          • It actually costs less to live in Charlottetown than in Montague.

        • Yes, obviously the solution is that the government must be able to dictate where people live and what industry they will work at in order to fulfill dear leader’s five-yearthe government’s economic plan.

          You know, it seems they could save a lot of effort if they just tested us all in grade school and then ensured we got trained as best fits them ton qualify for the jobs that meet the production levels they find appropriate.

          • You can live in an area with few job opportunities if you want, but don’t expect a government cheque for it.

          • She doesn’t. She expects a government cheque for working and having paid into the system which is supposed to support us.

          • If she has been on EI five times already, she has withdrawn many times over what she has paid into the system.

          • If you’ve been on EI once, you’ve probably withdrawn more than you’ve paid into the system. If you’ve had one insurance claim, you’ve probably pulled out more than you paid. That’s kind of how insurance works, and that’s not the point. If EI was simply a government savings account held for each of us, that’d make sense and you’d have a point. It isn’t, so it doesn’t, and so you’re pointless.

          • Govt cheque… You are aware that govt contributes nothing to EI?

          • I know this will be difficult to penetrate your thick socialist brain but the ” government ” is not a separate profitable corporation like Suncor or Apple.
            Government is you and me and Millions other citizens.
            Think of government as a collective distribution centre for the forced contributions of all taxpayers.

            And us millions have decided that our forced EI premiums should not be going to this woman who believes that EI is to be used as a paid holiday.

            Now, if you truly believe that she should continue to be paid for not working from the contributions of other people who are working then I suggest that you pay her yourself.
            Now that would be something—-imagine a Liberal actually giving rather than receiving their entitlements.

          • Andrew speaks for millions – should we be addressing him as ‘Sir’?

          • Government contributes EVERYTHING to EI, kcm. Yes, the government collects the premiums from the employed, but the government also collects taxes to cover the expense of providing its services. So to use your logic, the government contributes nothing to anybody.

          • All you fishers and farmers – forget it – get a plumbing ticket and move to the city.

          • If farming and fishing need to be subsidized, I would argue that the provinces should set up a separate system for handling that. EI is an insurance program, not a subsidy program.

          • And if we were allowed only a few possessions and lived in state housing, we could be moved on short notice to where the work is, even if temporary.

          • I never thought of that!

          • Easy to sneak into a omnibus bill…

          • Thwim, the government shouldn’t HAVE to push her to move where the jobs are; she should be able to come to that conclusion on her own. But some people need a fire under their rumps to get them to do anything.

            Also, if you consider your second sentence for a moment, you’re proposing the very kind of top-down social and economic engineering you seem to oppose in your first sentence. Only you think they should be looking thirty or forty years into the future instead of only five.

        • Really! Obviously she has found work before and says she is willing to move but can’t afford to. And your solution is what? The govt should force her perhaps ? What happened to the portability provision that used to go with UI? The obvious answer is let her keep her UI while she moves to where the jobs are. I have done it myself in my youth, when UI really belonged to the people of this country and not its bureaucrats…as I said, the Harper govt…no policy is too stupid for it to not pursue

          • Her whole point is that she doesn’t WANT to move. Do you even read things before you start yammering on?

          • Yeesh read the first link, she says she would if she had transport .

          • If she had transport, she wouldn’t need to move. Use your loaf.

          • Your emotionalism weakens not strengthens your arguments, kcm. Moving costs nothing; she could have friends or family drive her and her belongings. I moved from Nanaimo to Vancouver when I was 25, and I did it without a car. Across the Strait of Georgia. And had to visit Vancouver several times before I even found a place to live. Yes, it was stressful. Getting started in life always is. But Marlene, it seems, does not handle stress well. I suggest she learn how. And spare us the Harper-bashing, please; a Canadian edition of Bush Derangement Syndrome we do not need.

        • For a lot of people it would make sense to move where the jobs are. But people are not all the same, some have handicapped children who cannot be displaced; some have elderly parents who cannot be abandoned. Would you abandon your child or your parents because the government would push you to do so?

          • Why can’t you bring the parents and children with you? It’s fine if people want to live where there are no jobs, but they shouldn’t expect the government cheques to keep rolling in.

          • Obviously you’ve never been in that situation. I have and you’ll have to remove your political hat and trust me : you can’t move a 92 year old or some severely disabled persons around that easily.

            If you do leave your disabled child or 92 year old parent, the government will have to look after them, and that I would think is a lot more expensive than paying EI to someone who has paid into that system.

          • Then they should have thought of that before they became too disabled to move. Again, the government is not responsible for patching up the damage left by people’s bad choices. Freedom comes with a price: responsibility.

            Can’t move a 92-year-old around that easily? The Queen will be 87 in April and she’s nobody’s cripple. Exactly what would preclude moving a 92-year-old? It’s not like they’d make him walk. In fact, the standard of medical care in the capital would likely be better.

          • This is the kind of thinking prevalent in our new Ninny State.

          • And neither of those situations apply in this case.

          • First, Loraine, the device of the hypothetical argument is a form of deception, and when you add emotion to the mix as you have done, it is a form of blackmail. Sorry, not biting.

            In any case, none of this is true of Marlene, so your question is moot.

          • This is not a hypothetical argument Shane when one understands that the new EI rules have not been designed for Marlene alone but for all workers who pay into EI.

      • She’s been on EI “5 or 6 times” at the age of 30. WTF would you call chronic? EI wasn’t designed for people who want to “take a break”.

        You’re saying the CPC is “stupid and heartless” because they won’t implement bad policy for electoral gain? Because that worked so well for the Liberals?

        Yet another brilliant example of how you don’t have a clue, thanks!

        • “Yes. Five or six times maybe. Most of it’s all sick benefits from when I needed a break and then switched onto regular benefits until I could find a job and yes, I did find a job.”

          Here’s the whole context. I forgot to read the post link first time. But no matter. Half the maritimers have probably been on EI 5 or 6 times before 30. Point is she has a history of working- pretty good for a single mom in her circumstances. As for clueless, I do believe it might be your real name Rick??????Omen?????

          • “But no matter. Half the maritimers have probably been on EI 5 or 6 times before 30.”

            Then Harper was right when he said the Maritimes needed a reality check and that they ought to ditch the culture of underachievement. And are we supposed to be impressed because this single mom SOMETIMES works? Maybe you feel she should only sometimes need to pay her taxes, too.

        • CPC doesn’t implement bad policy for political gain? You don’t actually believe that do you?

      • Not quite, kcm. A more in-depth article with a personal interview appeared in the National Post, in which Marlene made some damaging admissions.

        First, she acknowledged she could find work in the capital but has no way to commute, which is true. But she also added that she refuses to move there, which would be the sensible thing, because it would mean leaving friends and family and “destroy her personally.” Apparently the state owes her a life.

        Secondly, this isn’t the first time she’s been on EI. She’s been on EI six times, she said, “whenever she needed a break.” And she is barely thirty years old. That’s not much of a work ethic; she seems to suffer from the curious Maritime belief that work is a seasonal affair.

        The bottom line is she could move to the capital find work but won’t. Not can’t, won’t. And that’s why she has been cut off.

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