Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the minister has received various products that have discussed and outlined measures to maintain the standard for processing Employment Insurance, EI, claims given the significant increase in EI applications over the last eight months. A number of them have dealt with the additional resources and measures that are being added to EI processing such as: redistributing workloads across the country; increasing processing staff by over 900 and adding another 400 over the next few months; increasing overtime on a voluntary basis; reassigning staff from other areas of the department that are not involved in processing benefits; recalling recent retirees; increasing the level of automation of claims processing; and extending the regular hours of operation for EI call centres from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday and Fridays and on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
In response to (b), the standard of service is to have 80% of clients who file for benefits receive their first payment or a non-payment notification within 28 days of the date their claim was filed.
In response to (c), for the first seven months of 2009, the average number of days from the date of application until payment or notification of non-payment was 23 days.
In response to (d), the service has 1,041 telephone lines with up to 821 staff available at any one time. Call centre telephone line capacity always exceeds the number of telephone lines staffed to enable incoming calls, queuing of callers until agents become available, and internal call transfer capabilities.