Equal Times — January 26, 1983

“After all, Char, with her Silver Medal which she won upon graduating with her Bachelor of Education last spring, even applied to McDonald’s (you know the fast-food joint that makes what can be very loosely called “hamburgers). What’s worse they turned her down.”

May 3, 2015

Now, if my friend, Char has been wanting to get even with McDonald’s for not hiring her some 32 years ago, she might be pleased to hear that, rumour has it, McDonald’s might go totally out of business.

But the following piece– that I have quoted from above– is not really about God/dess finally hearing our prayers and saving the world’s people from bad hamburgers.

It is about the power of speaking up when the system is threatening to ‘chew you up and spit you out’ metaphorically speaking.

Here is an except from the Equal Times column I once wrote:

The Gravelbourg Gazette

January 26, 1983

Equal Times

by Tanya Lester

“I have been wondering if you would know of any girls in Winnipeg who would care to come west to work on a farm for the summer. Will give a good girl $25 a month if she is available to take all the housework off my hands and let me sew and take care of the children. I have five, from 13 to 7 months. If you know of any please give them my address and oblige. Weyburn.”

— Letter to Miss Frances Marion Beynon

Grain Growers’ Guide

April 8, 1914

If my friend, Char, had seen the above ad in the newspaper a couple of months ago, she probably would have applied for it even though the woman was only willing to pay $25 a month.

After all, Char, with her Silver Medal which she won upon graduating with her Bachelor of Education last spring, even applied to McDonald’s (you know the fast-food joint that makes what can be very loosely called “hamburgers”). What’s worse — they turned her down.

Yes, Char was one of the millions of unemployed in Canada who was willing to take any job in order to collect a paycheque. But, in the fall, when her summer employment ended and her job rejection notices started reaching the number 40 mark (she had this bad habit of hanging them up on her wall as a confidence boost), Char realized that she would have to do something a bit more imaginative.

With her next month’s rent looming up and with no money in her bank account to pay for it,  Char sat down and wrote a letter to Lloyd Axworthy (better known as Lloyd Unworthy) the Minister of Employment or Unemployment depending on your frame of mind.

Now Char had applied for Unemployment Insurance even though she had not worked the required qualifying period which is 10 to 14 weeks of employment within the last 52 weeks. She had applied for UIC because rumor had it that with unemployment being so high the federal government was reducing the number of weeks for which someone had to work in order to be eligible for Unemployment Insurance.

Char sat and waited the four to five week waiting period to see if she would actually get some UIC money. (To say she actually sat and waited is putting it mildly. She spent most of her time either frantically applying for jobs or chewing her fingernails off wondering if the UIC would come in before her rent came due.)

To be sure, the amount of money wasn’t going to be much because UIC only pays 60 per cent of what  a person was making when he or she was working. Seeing as Char had been making only minimum wage, the amount of money she was expecting would be nothing to write home about unless she was writing to ask her parents to lend her some money.

But when the UIC money did not arrive, Char decided to write “Lloyd”, as he is lovingly called around Winnipeg, and ask him if he could help. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Mr. Axworthy was also her Member of Parliament (MP) but a week later Char got a call from him. He wanted to meet with her.  Fine, Char thought, I hope he offers me a government job.

But it seems Mr. Axworthy had other plans for Char.  He must have pulled a few civil servant strings here and there. A few days later, Char received not one but six UIC cheques in the mail. Anyone who has ever collected UIC will realize just how amazing this is!

Now the moral of the  story is this: If you have applied for UIC and are having problems with the red tape and civil servants attached to it, give your MP a call. If it worked for Char, it could work for you….



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