Birth certificate misspelling hinders Employment Insurance application
A Calgary woman says her attempt to secure Employment Insurance (E.I.) has been a frustrating ordeal as the agency closed her file over a discrepancy regarding the name on her birth certificate.
Belinda Barber’s original birth certificate was stolen years ago and, when she requested a replacement, she failed to notice the new card stated her name as Balinda rather than Belinda.
In December, Barber applied for E.I. after losing her sales and training job. The Calgarian was shocked to discover her E.I. application had been closed as Service Canada had discovered the name on her birth certificate differed from the name she provided on her paperwork.
“The E in my name was changed to an A so when I went to try to explain to EI all of this, they said that this isn’t acceptable,” said Barber.
Barber was told she would need to legally change her name, a process that would likely take more than eight months at a cost of up to $500, to amend the issue.
The 53-year-old says she has a valid Canadian passport and NEXUS card bearing the correct spelling of her name, she has paid taxes to the Canadian Revenue Agency as Belinda Barber for the better part of four decades and all of her school records include the name Belinda.
Barber’s Ontario-issued birth certificate was recreated using the information provided in the handwritten form her mother had filled out in hospital. The Ontario government insists the original form says Balinda.
The Calgarian says she was ready to give up when she reached out to CTV Calgary. “With the amount of frustration and the runaround that they gave me, it was almost getting to the point where it wasn't even going to be worth it to even continue on because I had come to a roadblock.”
CTV Calgary attempted to contact Service Canada on Barber’s behalf. Prior to Service Canada issuing a response to CTV’s request, Barber received a phone call asking her to present additional identification and to provide a signature in-person.
Barber’s E.I. claim is now being processed and she expects to receive benefits in the near future. She suspects she has missed out on several weeks of coverage as a result of the error.
Employment Canada has not provided an explanation as to why Barber was not contacted when the discrepancy was discovered but officials say applicants should request a follow-up if they feel they were wrongfully denied.
A federal panel created to study the E.I. system found many applicants face long delays, even with error-free birth certificates.
“It clearly is a horror story when people at a very, very sensitive time in their lives, when they need Employment Insurance to pay the mortgage to buy groceries, are not getting service from the government,” said Terry Duguid, Winnipeg-South MP.
Barber says she’s glad her E.I. application issue has been addressed and she can now concentrate on searching for a job.
With files from CTV’s Shaun Frenette