EI COMPASSIONATE CARE … From 6 Weeks to 6 Months … What a Difference It Would Have Made 2 Years Ago!

Critics are saying Canada’s new federal budget is basically a propaganda budget that makes lots of promises that will be fulfilled … if the conservatives are re-elected in September of 2015.

However, there is one particular item that I am extremely grateful they have recognized needed to changed … Employment Insurance Compassionate Care.

Two winters ago I had to quit a part-time job I had been doing for a year and a half to be physically close to Dad when he was still venturing out on his own. At the time, I was also working on securing book publication. Two publishers, one American and one Canadian, were interested just on the book proposal for Connecting the Dots … with The RESPECT PRINCIPLE. One other American publisher was also interested in my novel, DARK HORSES.

Dad’s transition from living at home to a retirement home and then into a nursing home was not a smooth one because we quickly discovered how few minutes personal support workers were allowed to give to each resident … regardless of their needs. The net result was the residences’ demands someone be available to help with Dad … to engage him throughout the day and into the evening … and to also be on 24-hour alert for such calls and for the number emergency room visits.

Without going into the whole scenario here … though I am writing a paper or book on the past three and a half years … it became clear that focusing on the publication offers would provide me with the flexibility I needed to be on hand for Dad.

However, after discovering the publishing interest meant I would only see about 10% of the book’s price and that the publishers expected me to do most of the marketing and sales promotion that would reduce my profit below the 10% because of the additional costs, plus their limited vision to see how the additional books, products, and services that I already envisioned and in some cases, had created, could enhance the core book’s sales to also serve the my bigger altruistic and entrepreneurial vision, plus the timeline meant months later what money I did have was long gone and credit had to be maxed out just to survive.

But living on credit did not last long, because the high cost of living in a “hydro” town, working part-time, and paying for things such as gas to drive Dad around in his car had already ramped up debt above the five hundred dollar debt I had moved back to town with the year and half prior … all of which did a number on a previously good credit rating the next few years … which I am in the process of rectifying.

Rent became an issue and I was forced to move into my brother’s basement by mid April. I then heard about Compassionate Care and worked with what then was a once-a-week government office to apply for the six week Employment Insurance Compassionate Care benefit … though at the time, the government person did not suggest I apply for what turned out was the regular Employment Insurance I was entitled to … but I am jumping ahead of myself.

With no money to pay rent or buy food, I reluctantly applied for what I thought was a summer job at a local market while I waited for the EICC benefit. They both arrived in the same month, June of 2013. This job, however, paid almost 3 dollars less an hour, just .25 over minimum wage and required the purchase of special shoes and clothing.

What I was not expecting was a strong physical allergic reaction to chemicals I had to use for cleaning … even stronger than the cleaners I had to use occasionally at the previous job. What I was hoping was that my shifts would in the mornings when I was least called by Dad’s residence, but unfortunately, on the weekends I was often slated to work afternoons and evenings … alone … which meant when the calls started coming in that Dad had been taken to the Wingham hospital for stitches in his head, I had to leave a department devoid of any staff … which as a very conscientious employee troubled me as did what my Dad was going through.

By late August, with a ring of rash around my ankles and lower legs that did not abate, plus the increasing number of falls my Dad was having, I gave my notice to the company, unaware that when I was hired they were expecting me to stay beyond the summer.

By November with money an issue again, I went back to the government office and discovered I had been since the previous spring entitled over half a year’s Employment Insurance benefits … so I applied. I had been told the government could pay retroactively, but the government denied my request and also the appeal. They would only pay from the time I filed till the end of the period which was a couple of months’ benefits versus over half a year’s benefits.

Another January and February arrived as did the quandary. Applying for most local jobs meant not being available when needed for Dad or having to repeatedly leave employers in the lurch when I had to leave for Dad. The search for other options meant looking at the idea of leaving the area, but that idea did not seem right at all. And the search for jobs I could do remotely on the Internet did not pan out either, so I was back in the position of no income again.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, leaning too much on my brother for food and shelter, resulted in my dragging my feet and hung head to the social assistance office. The good news was I could start paying my brother some rent and I could buy some real food, but by this time I had been running so low on everything, things were very lean.

The great discovery though was the government-sponsored business start-up program and funding available for those who met the criteria. I attended the information workshops with my goal of launching my company that would not only provide the creative works, but would also manage the publishing and distribution of the books, products, and services … s0 things were looking up … though I was not sure how I would be able to commit to all the workshops I had to attend in Owen Sound … yet still be available … again for Dad.

If, like the Compassionate Care benefits, I had known about this two years before, when I had Dad’s car to drive and did not have the debt I later incurred, I would have been accepted into the program … but I was declined again, a third time by the government, for another option that would have lifted me out of poverty. I was declined because I had the debt and no equity … which was precipitated by not knowing about the Employment Insurance Compassionate Care benefits sooner, by not knowing and the government not telling I was also entitled to over half a year of Employment Insurance and by not knowing till two years later about the Ontario Self Employment Benefits program.

Dad finally gave up the fight March 20, 2015. Two years of living in a dark basement, eating a lot of unhealthy food bank food and sinking further into allergic problems created by the whole scenario has exacted a hefty price, but one I know I will recover from easily in the next few years once I leave the area that has grown inhospitable because of misunderstanding and prejudice regarding my decisions and choices … misunderstanding and prejudice based on not knowing the details and the big picture of my life, which is one of the reasons I am writing this entry today.

Dad and I had been estranged for years after his second “marriage” and I quickly discovered upon my return he did not have much himself. I also knew I was not in his Will and what little there was would go to his second wife, my brother, and my mom … and I was fine with that because I did not move back and spend the past three and a half years with him for the money … I did it to honour my Dad and to heal our relationship before he left this plane … which I did.

Yet, a blessing is arriving in May. I have been offered some money from another source that will allow me to make the move across country I have longed to do for eighteen years plus serve as start-up funding for my company, which is still currently registered as a sole proprietorship under my own name.

Why I have written all this … to share the “facts” of my story for all the speculators and to inform you of what no one told me about … the Employment Insurance Compassionate Care benefits our government has realized is greatly needed … to prevent the financial injury caused by Dad’s health care needs not met by the seniors’ care facilities and funding … plus the denial three times of benefits that would have prevented the deep slide into debt.

Do not wait for someone to tell you or to find out by word-of-mouth … research and learn now what you may need to know in the future for your loved ones and your own quality of life … because you never know what life is going to challenge you with and though we cannot be prepared for everything, we can demonstrate the initiative to let others know we are just as valuable … entitled to the respect some try to reserve for the few.

Best wishes to your loved ones and you.

As for me, I have a life to rebuild, a cross-country journey to make, and a company to grow.

April 23, 2015

KAITLIN A. TREPANIER

Freeing “Potential” with Education, Entertainment, and Inspiration with the global initiative and core book Connecting the Dots … with The RESPECT PRINCIPLE … because every child … every person … should know, by their own experience, they are valued … RESPECTED.

© All rights reserved 2014.

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