The federal government promised to expedite employment insurance applications and ease travel restrictions at British Columbia’s borders on Sunday, among a host of measures meant to help residents of the flood-ravaged province recover from recent storms and weather new ones expected in the days ahead.
The show of support from Ottawa came as Environment Canada redoubled its warnings about more wet weather set to sweep through a province that’s already registered record rainfalls in the past week, which triggered mudslides that have killed four people to date and crippled much of B.C.’s economic and agricultural activity.
Speaking at a news conference alongside several of her cabinet colleagues, Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said British Columbians displaced or left jobless due to extreme flooding should immediately apply for employment insurance benefits - even if they wouldn’t normally be eligible.
She said the federal government would waive the requirement for applicants to show a record of employment, recognizing that it may be difficult for many to obtain the proper documentation under current circumstances.
“Obviously, it could be very difficult in these times to get that ... particular document,” she said. “We’re looking at the reality of pandemic benefits and people having exhausted their EI has impacted their availability of ongoing EI supports.”
Qualtrough said people should apply anyway, adding the federal government “will figure this out” for them one way or another and Ottawa will be there to support British Columbians through this crisis.
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