Like many freelancers and women who’ve had babies, I’ve had several occasions over the years to interact with our country’s unemployment insurance program. Heck, I was on it for the first time way back when they still called it ‘UI.’ That was before a shift toward political correctness saw them change its name to ‘Employment Insurance’ from ‘UN-employment Insurance.’

Anyway, during one of those periods in 2003, I learned my benefits would be stopping several weeks sooner than I had understood to be the case.

When I went to the local office to ask why this had happened, I learned that – as with many things – the way they had worded my initial letter had been misleading. I then asked the gentleman why they didn’t explain things in greater detail in their letter to avoid misunderstanding. His answer: “If we gave any more information than we do now, you’d have to wait in a much longer lineup to get to see me.”

I was somewhat shocked at his candour, but not surprised at his answer.

An employment resource that cuts the churn…

So imagine my pleasant surprise at a recent ad sponsored by Employment Ontario, the provincial ministry responsible for training and helping people become more employable. It was in the back of Toronto’s NOW magazine, with the eye-grabbing header ‘Demystify E.I.’ Its first paragraphs read:

Before you decide to sell your Mac and your kidneys to make ends meet after losing a job, look into Employment Insurance (EI). It may be awhile before you find your next gig and EI will help you stay afloat…”

Simple, straightforward, and true to the reader’s situation. In other words, much more accessible! And enough to get me to go look at the online magazine the ad promotes. See for yourself here at Possibilities online magazine, which aims to be ‘Toronto’s online employment resource centre.’

A quick scan shows links to timely articles about employment in different industries, employment resources and connections with a host of community partners who also work to increase access to information in Toronto. And it’s all packaged in more of a magazine format using plain language, rather than the standard government-information format that makes the eyes tend to glaze over.

I’ve not always heard good things about the Ontario training ministry, but I suspect that this magazine is one of their more successful efforts. And it’s quite a contrast from what was available to folks back in 2003.