03/15/2016 08:24 EDT | Updated 03/16/2017 05:12 EDT

Employment Insurance Delays Mean Waiting A Month To Find Out If You're Eligible

OTTAWA — Newly released figures show jobless Canadians are waiting days for answers to their employment insurance questions, and a month or more to find out if they are going to receive benefits.

The figures tabled in Parliament last week show 297,586 employment insurance applicants waited more than 28 days for a decision on their files.

The average wait time was 39 days nationwide and in Alberta, which has been hard hit by the slumping price of oil.

The numbers also show that Canadians dialling into a federal call centre with employment insurance questions heard an automated high volume message almost 7.4 million times between April 2015 and January of this year.

ei recipients

The number of EI recipients fell for years until 2014, when oil prices fell and EI applications started rising. (Chart; StatsCan)

Consequently, processing times and client services topped the categories for complaints lodged with the government.

The figures were tabled in response to a written question from NDP employment critic Niki Ashton.

Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk says the government knows it has work to do on the employment insurance system and will have more to say on its plan soon.

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