Thursday, July 23, 2009

So-called "Employment Insurance"

I delayed going to the Service Canada office until yesterday, because I really and truly thought I'd be working (or at least interviewing) by now, 6 weeks after I was terminated. I received my record of employment (ROE) about three weeks ago.

While the joint was hoppin', there was no line-up at the computer, where I input my info in less than 10 minutes (their estimate: 60 minutes) and printed my statement. Since I have a lot of contribution room I put a big chunk of my severance/settlement into my Retirement Savings Plan (RSP) to reduce the immediate tax hit (any funds I kept would have been immediately taxed as though they were earnings -- about 43%) and also to get a nice tax refund next March.

But it looks like 1) I'll be waiting longer than I expected to get a full-time job or contract, 2) a number of weeks must pass before I get any EI benefits at all, and 3) my severance, in the opinion of the federal government and local authorities, gives me enough to live on for the foreseeable future, which isn't in fact true, since I put over half in my retirement plan.

My mother sent me a generous cheque to pay my dental bill plus a bit more to live on, but when I look at my bank account (and my mortgage, insurance, transit pass, utilities, food for me and the cats, etc.) I see the bank balance dwindling steadily and at a faster rate than I calculated.

And I haven't taken any of the obvious measures to reduce my spending, such as quitting smoking, cancelling my basic cable (since I don't watch TV; UPDATE: that's done), reducing my alcohol consumption, and so on. While at the liquor store today I saw a woman who was speaking angrily ("I'm working now!!") with a fellow employee -- she was sitting cross-legged under the parking meter right in front of the store, with her belongings around her, and I guess it was her turn to solicit at that spot. The elderly gentleman in the wool hat and parka (who's not reliably medicated as near as I can figure out) just had to wait his turn.

Now I have a pretty nice wardrobe, and I'm fairly presentable when I've washed up, and I've often imagined myself standing, well turned out, in a likely spot on Bay Street during the lunch hour and saying, "Spare change? Would you like some spare change?" and seeing if anyone took me up on it... Now my spare change goes to smokes.

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