CALGARY — The line at a Calgary career fair said it all — 1,000 people queued up to land one of 100 jobs.
Gilroy Misquita said he is running out of time and hoped Wednesday would be the day he got an offer.
Misquita was laid off from his job in the oilpatch a year ago, and his last Employment Insurance (EI) cheque will arrive in the coming days.
“It’s going to be very hard after that. I have a house, I have a mortgage to pay,” Misquita said.
EI changes for Calgary and rural parts of Alberta could see his benefits extended anywhere between five to 20 weeks.
Requirements, along with wait times, will also be reduced.
“It will help for sure, but people don’t want to be on EI forever,” said Laura-Lee Lindstein, who was laid off from an oil company last October.
The Alberta government estimates the changes are worth $380 million. But not everyone gets help.
Because Edmonton’s unemployment rate hasn’t risen as quickly the rest of Alberta, out-of-work Edmontonians are not eligible for the reduced requirements for EI.
It’s an exclusion Premier Rachel Notley has said she will monitor.
“We will keep a sharp eye on the state of job losses in Edmonton,” Notley told reporters Tuesday, after the federal government released its budget for 2016-17.
“We will continue to push for changes if the situation worsens.”
Unemployed heavy-duty mechanic Mark Tonn said the situation is already bad. He believes he shouldn’t be excluded.
The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) said it’s not fair to workers who have always paid into EI.
AFL secretary-treasurer Siobhán Vipond said the federal government should review its decision.
Nine months of looking for work haven’t helped Kelly Kemick. She isn’t focused on a government cheque addressed to her; she wants to get back to work.
“I wish instead of an extension to EI, there was more incentives to get businesses up and running,” Kemick said.