Island man says he was denied EI after moving to be with daughter

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When Jeremy Avery left his job in Alberta and moved back to Prince Edward Island he did it so he could be with his three-year-old daughter.

Jeremy Avery, here at his home in Fort Augustus, was denied an employment insurance claim after he quit a job in Alberta to be closer to his three-year-old daughter.

But while he tried to find work his employment insurance claim was rejected because he quit his job to move home.

Avery said it was around November when he made the decision to move after he missed his daughter's birthday.

"It kind of hit me hard," he said.

After living in Alberta for about two years where he worked as a mechanical and commercial plumber, Avery moved back to P.E.I. on Dec. 11.

It took more than a month for him to find out his claim was rejected.

When people leave their employment voluntarily they normally aren't eligible for EI benefits, but there are exceptions.

The need to accompany a dependent child is one of those exceptions.

Avery moved to Alberta with his daughter and her mother, but when the couple split up they came back to P.E.I. in May while he stayed out west.

After spending months away from his daughter, Avery said he felt obligated to move back to P.E.I. to be with his daughter.

"Work's work but family's family," he said.

Avery said he had a good job and worked hard at a small company that had only a few employees, but while he enjoyed his work it was hard being away from his daughter.

"It was tough."

He also said he knew he wouldn't be able to find the same opportunity in P.E.I. and with the possibility looming that his ex-girlfriend and daughter might move back to Alberta at some point he was willing to sacrifice in the short term.

Things changed when he learned his ex-girlfriend decided to stay in P.E.I. when she landed a good job.

"My plan is eventually to go back out, but I had to come home and work things out because I was in fear that there's the possibility that things could go bad and I could lose my daughter," he said.

Avery said he felt bad for leaving, but he felt moving to be with his daughter was a reasonable excuse when it came to filing an EI claim.

"I never planned on living off of it for a year or even six months."

Since moving back, Avery said he has looked for work, but hasn't been able to find any and submitted his EI claim on Dec. 17.

Avery said he called to speak to someone about his claim a few times and on Jan. 24, which was 29 days after he filed, he was told to check in another few days because it hadn't been looked at yet.

That's when his father called their MP Lawrence MacAulay, who Avery said called Service Canada on his behalf.

Avery said he got a call about 15 or 30 minutes later to tell him his claim was denied because his reason for leaving his job wasn't a valid reason.

"I wasn't too happy because in my mind I felt the reasoning was pretty legitimate."

It also upset him that it took his MP calling about the claim for him to get a decision, Avery said.

"It just doesn't seem like they put much effort into looking at the situation or reading into it at all."

Service Canada has an annual target of paying out 80 per cent of claimants within 28 days of filing a claim for EI benefits.

Employment and Social Development Canada was contacted about Avery's claim and provided a statement, which said processing staff was working on it the day MacAulay called.

"The timing of the decision and the call to Mr. Avery was based on current workload volumes, rather than the MP enquiry," the statement said.

The statement also said Avery spoke to someone from Service Canada on Jan. 24, at which time he told them there was no urgent situation that necessitated his immediate return to P.E.I. and that he planned to move back to Alberta within six months.

Avery disagreed.

"I told them that I'd have to go back soon if I don't get any money straightened out," he said.

When claims are rejected an applicant has 30 days to file for a reconsideration, which Avery said he did last week.

Organizations: Service Canada

Geographic location: P.E.I., Alberta

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Recent comments

  • Juices
    February 04, 2014 - 16:30

    Nope this is stupid why would anyone cry over this. I work In Alberta I have a child on pei I miss a lot but there are many jobs hear that allow you to have the best of both life's and if you quit a job and you don't have money why should I pay taxes to cover you. if you can't aford to go home and fix this you won't beable to afford to raise her on ei anyways so man up stop thinking about yourself go back to Alberta make money to give your daughter a better life. I good father pervoids for his family not ei.

    • Linda C
      February 05, 2014 - 17:12

      Typical man. Your presence is more important to your family than your money. It's one thing to travel back and forth so you can see your family and make money but to live in a different province full time and not see your kids very often is a different story.

    • Linda C
      February 05, 2014 - 17:16

      Glad I saw this since I was planning to leave my job in NL and move back to PEI where I want to live. I thought I would be able to get EI while I looked for a job. Guess I'm staying put.

  • reader
    February 04, 2014 - 14:46

    I well understand the young man's feelings for his daughter. However, he and his girlfriend basically separated and he did allow the child to go with her mother at the time. Now he says he feels an obligation to the child - odd word to choose. He voluntarily left his job - he wasn't going to a place with a higher employment rate and he should have been aware of that. EI is not a financial support system for all reasons. Even if he has to be in Alberta, perhaps some sharing arrangements can be made for the child to spend time with both her parents before she disconnects from her father completely. There are also good jobs to be had in the west if the mother really wants a relationship with the father. And if a relationship is merely an obligation, then that obligation can be carried out in many ways.

  • Anna
    February 04, 2014 - 13:09

    The government may have rejected him, but they were never delayed with taking their money off every paycheck..

  • What
    February 04, 2014 - 10:59

    Nobody asked why a man who worked in a "good job" out west would need EI. How much would a man in that position make? Probably 6 figures a year, and you need ei? Really? So many live on much less and now you cry because the government won't supplement your already sufficient income?

  • spud
    February 04, 2014 - 10:47

    I would like to hear the child's mothers side of the story.

  • evelyn costain
    February 04, 2014 - 10:03

    that is so unfair for mr.avery he worked for the money i really think he deverses it

  • A single parent too!
    February 04, 2014 - 09:10

    First of all, who comes to the media and airs all their personal baggage? Someone looking for pity! Can't find a job? Well McDonalds is always hiring!!!! Lower your standards and get a job. Don't expect the government to take care of you because you quit a good job. Being a single parent as well, I have worked jobs that I hated to make ends meet, it sets and example for your children....sorry no sympathy here!!!!

  • Lloyd
    February 04, 2014 - 07:41

    While I feel bad for Mr. Avery he quit his job. I am sure a lot of people miss their children when they work away from home. He maybe should have asked for a leave of absence to come home and sort out his problems. You just can,t quit your job and expect pogey. They should have told him quicker he was not eligible for benefits.

  • there now
    February 04, 2014 - 06:27

    wow what is our system doing give this young man his ei so he can make it rite with his daughter there is no work on pei...gail shea an the rest should be in jail.......

  • Good boss
    February 04, 2014 - 06:12

    You are just a number to the gov. They have jobs so who cares. The boss that you worked hard for for 2 years should have just laid you off.

    • Brad
      February 04, 2014 - 09:45

      You can't just lay someone off and then hire a replacement. Do you want the good boss to run into issues with the Gov't also?

    • Al
      February 04, 2014 - 13:37

      I miss my wife when I go to work to.maybe I should be able to stay home too.grew up ei is on for emergency.not if you miss your wife and kids.