Cancer survivors ‘scrambling’ after EI cuts: O’Mahony

A Chilliwack woman fighting breast cancer has been cut off unemployment insurance benefits before her medical treatment is over.

A Chilliwack woman fighting breast cancer has been cut off unemployment insurance benefits before her medical treatment is over.

But Bev MacGregor’s plight is not an isolated case, said Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O’Mahony, who has gone to bat for the Chilliwack resident, even though EI coverage is a federal matter.

“At present the maximum length of the EI sickness benefit is 15 weeks,” O’Mahony said in a Jan. 9 letter to MP Diane Finley, the federal minister of human resources and skills development.

“But the average length of breast cancer treatment is 38 weeks and can last much longer,” she said, leaving many in financial straits after they’ve fought and survived the disease.

O’Mahony urged the minister to take “immediate steps to improve EI coverage … so more Canadians are not left scrambling to cover basic expenses while they undergo life-saving treatment.”

MacGregor said she was “absolutely ecstatic” to learn about O’Mahony’s letter of support.

“This is shameful that in Canada this is how we treat our sick people,” she said, pointing out that EI coverage is not free, but something every Canadian worker pays into.

MacGregor, a government employee until her job was cut, was told that her EI benefits would end Nov. 17, and that she had “forfeited” her eligibility for more because her treatment went beyond 15 weeks.

“My cancer wasn’t magically cured by Nov. 17,” she said. “I have no benefits.”

Since her cancer diagnosis in August, she’s had two surgeries and several chemotherapy sessions with five more to come.

But MacGregor says she is “one of the lucky ones” who has a network of friends and family helping her financially.

“I realize how fortunate I am, but when I hear all the other stories … there are so many who don’t have the same support,” she said.

“People need to know about this, and be prepared,” she said.

O’Mahony told The Progress that since MacGregor went public with her story there has been a “groundswell of outrage” and many have called the MLA’s office, unaware that EI is under federal jurisdiction.

“They see a woman in need, and they contact my office,” she said.

MacGregor said she did meet with federal Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP, Mark Strahl, but he “dropped the ball” as far as she is concerned.

“I’m so proud of (O’Mahony) and I cannot thank her enough for taking the ball and running with it, instead of dropping it like Mr. Strahl did,” she said.

O’Mahony said part of the EI problem is the $54-billion cut from the program by the Conservative government to help pay down the national deficit.

At the time of the 2008 cut, NDP MP Libby Davies called it “theft” of money paid into the EI fund by Canadian workers.

Just Posted

District of Kent to implement snow fence pilot project

$8,000 project to help prevent hazardous, drifting snow, and more from Kent council

PHOTOS: Fraser Valley Eagle Festival

Mission photographer Bob Friesen shares some of his images with the Record

PHOTOS: Harrison warms up to Christmas

The Lions Club hosts holiday event for community

11 years sought for Burnaby man who killed girlfriend with hammer, burned her body

Manslaughter sentencing hearing starts Monday in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack for Ryan Armstrong

German-born British Columbian warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

5 to start your day

Body found in Maple Ridge ID’ed as Hells Angel, Japanese ‘rising sun’ flag gone from Langley classroom and more

Bovine tuberculosis found in cow on southern B.C. farm

CFIA said the disease was found during slaughter and they are investigating

Air force getting more planes but has no one to fly them, auditor warns

The report follows several years of criticism over the Trudeau government’s decision not to launch an immediate competition to replace the CF-18s.

B.C.’s Esi Edugyan wins $100K Giller prize for Washington Black

Edugyan won her first Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2011 for Half-Blood Blues

Bolder action needed to reduce child poverty: Campaign 2000 report card

The report calls for the federal government to provide more funding to the provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to expand affordable, quality child care.

Judge bars US from enforcing Trump asylum ban

Protesters accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana; complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an “invasion.”

Ottawa Redblacks defensive back Jonathan Rose suspended for Grey Cup

Rose was flagged for unnecessary roughness and ejected for contacting an official with 37 seconds left in the first half following a sideline melee after a Tiger-Cats reception.

Most Read