Tag Archives: unemployment

Equal Times

July 2, 2018

I do not know if I ever talked to the friend that is featured in the following column if she was okay with me using her name and her experiences.

Of course, I do not use her last name and now that it 35 years after the fact, I can only assume that she will care now as in 2018 it is half a lifetime later.

By the still recommend what my friend did in an attempt to resolve her unemployment problem.

Here is the piece:

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 starting 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 know 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 for 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 percent 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, hope he offers me a government job.

But it seems Axworthy had other plans for Char. He must have pulled a few civil servant strings her and there. For 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…

….And by the way, don’t let them make you feel guilty. You paid UIC benefits when you were employed and will pay them again when you find another job so you are entitled to them and collect UIC benefits for up to 50 weeks.

Char’s story does have an even better ending though. In November she got a job as a junior high school teacher in northern Manitoba.

While I’m on the subject of laws concerning work, I would like to mention that I got a phone call from Tal Letourneau who is with the Department of Labour in Moose Jaw.

Mr. Letourneau said he had had a few phone calls and a visit from a woman in Gravelbourg which were prompted by the columns I have been writing on labour issues.

He was quick to compliment me on the pieces I have been writing and expressed his hope that employers are reading my column so hopefully there would be a reduction of employers breaking the labour laws.

But he also mentioned a couple of inaccuracies, on my part, concerning the interpretations of the laws. In some cases, I have been confusing federal government law with provincial law. Federal law covers employees who work for federally incorporated bank, the railways, grain companies and inter-provincial trucking companies, etc.

So, if you don’t work in one of these areas, you will be covered by provincial labour law. Mr. Letourneau pointed out that under provincial law, an employee is entitled to five days bereavement leave without pay (its three days leave with pay if you work at a job under federal law).

Also, Mr. Letourneau said an employer can five a worker if she or he is on sick leave. There is no protection under the law. This makes me think that the law is unfair and should be changed. As I mentioned in a previous column, a person cannot help being sick every once in a while. If you feel strongly enough about this, let you MLA, Allan Engel, know about it.

Concerning public holidays, it turns out that the law is even more complex than I thought it was. Mr. Letourneau said on the week of a public holiday, the employee only has to work 32 hours if he or she regularly works a 40 hour week.

If the employee works that 40 hour week, he or she should be paid time and a half for the extra 8 hours worked if the employer does not give the employee an extra day off. This would apply for Christmas, New Year’s Day, and other public holidays….


Tanya has works for over two decades as a psychic counsellor with a specialty in tea leaf reading, tarot and psychic channelling. She also does mediumship and gypsy card readings. She is a reiki master and fulltime housesitter as well. To find out more go to her web: teareading.wordpress.com and/or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Align. To book a reading or arrange a housesit, text or call her at 250-538-0086 or email: tealeaf.56@gmail.com

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. The first two books can be purchased from the author or amazon.ca   The third is at the Legislative Library of Manitoba. All of these titles are in a variety of public libraries.

To read any more posts in this blog of a variety of subject areas in many different genres, go to writingsmall.wordpress.com and teareading.wordpress.com




Unemployed Women Needed: UUW

August 8, 2017

I would like to paraphrase an expression that was popular among the women’s movement in the 1980’s, I think: I’ve come along way, baby.

Actually it was made popular by a cigarette company, I think, who wanted to lure more women into smoking the cancerous weed.

But over the years, I have come a long way when it comes to work. I am absolutely happy to have been self-employed as a psychic, who specializes in tea leaf reading and tarot, for the last 21 years and to housesit fulltime to make ends meet.

I think God/dess was probably always telling me that 9 to 5 or any other eight hour shift is so wrong for a person like me.

It is probably wrong for many.  This might be the silver lining in the new technology age. With fewer 40 hour week jobs available, more and more of us are following our own passions and creating our own businesses.

I even suspected this in the 1980s but felt I had to go with my left leaning loyalty that made me want to express solidarity with workers’ unions and the 8 hour daily grind:


July 1983

Unemployed Women Needed: UUW

by Tanya Lester

To be unemployed today is an extremely serious problem. But to be unemployed and a woman is even worse.

“Women and minorities are even more disillusioned than white men are with unemployment if you want to put it in those black and white terms,” said Susan Spratt, Equal Rights and Opportunities Committee chairperson of the Union of Unemployed Workers (UUW).

Even when women are employed, Spratt explained, they tend to work in non-unionized, low-paying, ghettoized positions with no pension plans, no health care, and no dental plans.

So when women are fired, they often do not have a union to take up a possible grievance. And because they work at lower paying jobs than men (women, on the average, earn 60 percent less than men), unemployment for women automatically means receiving lower unemployment insurance (UIC) benefits, according to Spratt.

An unemployed man, who was making eight dollars per hour, can hold out for a better job while continuing to receive UIC benefits, while women who worked at a lower salary would be required to accept a lower paying job or be cut off from her benefits.

Spratt fears a rebirth of the 1930’s sentiments that “when unemployment is really high then women shouldn’t be working anyway” and ” really all you’re (women) good for is making babies and making bread”.

For these reasons, Spratt welcomes unemployed women to participate in the UUW. Her plans for the Equal Rights and Opportunities Committee include organizing specific workshops resourced by the Women’s Employment Counselling Center, and Women in Trades. “The big thing is a lot of women don’t know how to get jobs,” she said and added the same types of workshops could be set up for Native and other minority group members of the UUW.

Spratt also wants to develop a support system within the UUW. For example, if a woman is turned down when applying for a job, the group might be able to help her to explore the reasons behind the job rejection and determine whether they were justifiable reasons. If not, the UUW could take action on her behalf.

Although Spratt realizes women might not want to join the UUW because a “union to a lot of women represents patriarchy”, she believes involvement in the UUW cab be a positive experience for both the male and female members. “I think it’s good for men to learn about the problems women and minorities face,” she said

As well, Spratt believes the UUW, being a vocal group, can help women speak out and continue to if they enter a unionized job or in other job situations….


To read more posts in this blog of eclectic stories, go to writingsmall.wordpress.com and tealeaf56.wordpress.com

Tanya can be contacted to give tea leaf readings, tarot, mediumship, etc. by texting or calling her at 250-538-0086 or emailing: tealeaf.56@gmail.com   For more information on what she does as a psychic, reiki master and housesitter go to teareading.wordpress.com

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader  and Friends I Never Knew (both available through amazon.ca or from the author) as well as Dreams and Tricksters & Women Rights/Writes. All of these books are available in some library systems.