My World of

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What to do when you are laid off or retrenched

By Nonita Mole

One of the greatest fears of an employee is to be LAID OFF or RETRENCHED. In definition, this is the temporary suspension or permanent termination of employment of an employee or, more commonly, a group of employees for business reasons, such as personnel management or downsizing an organization (Wikipedia). In short, an employee becomes jobless or unemployed.


In Canada, employees who have worked about 420 and 700 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period is covered by Employment Insurance (EI). The EI program provides temporary income support to unemployed employees while they look for employment or while they are upgrading their skills. EI usually gives only about 55% of your previous income, up to a maximum of $547 per week.


Let me share with you my experience when I was laid off. This took place right after I came from a beautiful vacation in Toronto and Montreal. When I thought my life was perfectly planned, one of the worst things happened. It was a usual day for a Department Monthly Meeting . The odd thing was the presence of our CEO and Operations Manager. Our meeting was normally with our QA Director only. At first, I thought today might be a special day or there's good news. There was a lengthy talk about the usual that I would rather forget. What I did remember is the CEO’s message that “....there will be a RE-ORGANIZATION and your department will be greatly affected. Your director and I will speak with you individually to discuss your options and our offer. Being new in the country and only 9 months in the workforce, it was very difficult to understand and even accept.

One by one, we were called. Everyone  looked teary eyed and in silence as they walked out the door. When it was my turn, I was absolutely clueless. I can see the sadness and sincerity in my Director’s eyes. I always had high respect of him. A letter was handed to me. Before I was able to read it, the CEO told me almost all of its contents. He said all the positive things and my valuable contributions to the team, which I don’t think will matter because the ending of his long speech will lead only to one thing .... being laid off. I was given an option but I felt, at that time, the offer was not for me. I was given one week as I have worked only for less than a year. Two weeks notice for my coworkers who worked more than a year. I may have worked only for 9 months but I have gained so much friends. It was great working with this QA team. My last week was the saddest days of my life in the company. Everyday was like the last day on earth. My director gave me a book of quotes to guide me through my next steps. The next few days after being laid off was even the worst. The hardest part was sharing this news to my family back home. Although they understood everything and they supported me all the way which was a very good thing. The great thing is my family never depended on me financially so it was not an issue for them. They were just concerned that I am alone here and no one will support me emotionally. I was barely new in the country and I have no close family. My sister’s MPNP was pending, and in this scenario, I was scared that I may not be able to bring her here . At that moment, my heart was breaking. But I have to be strong and I have to take action.

The feeling of grief for a few days is just normal. You lost your job and ypu are alone, however, don’t wallow in sorrows for too long as it will lead to nowhere and will create more problems. LIFE MUST GO ON.  Almost everyone experience that, not just you. Remember your goal here is to make your life better and not worse. 

Here are my suggestions of what to do that may help : 

1. First and foremost , PRAY for discerment, strength and guidance. Things happen for a reason and what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger, wiser and better.

2. APPLY FOR EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (EI) as soon as you stop working. Do not wait for Records of Employment (ROE), you can attach it afterwards. Checklist and steps to apply are readily available in the link below. Application is online so you can do it even at home. If you are not confident in filling up the details, you can go to SERVICE CANADA near you. Staff there are always happy to assist you. Remember, all details for EI application should be accurate and properly filled up to avoid delays in receiving your compensation. Personally, I went to Service Canada and I had no problem inquiring with their friendly staff. Rather than asking a friend  who might have filed EI along time ago, better ask the staff at Service Canada to avoid errors. Or even to know the latest in EI.

3. VOLUNTEER. This is a good time to participate and engage yourself in activities that interest you. It was fun because while helping for free, you are also learning, gaining experience , meeting friends, increasing your network and having fun as well. You can also put it in your resume, where your next employer can see your interest and skills. In your next interview, when ask what you're doing while jobless, it’s nicer to say that you are volunteering and doing something worthwhile. In addition, you can put people you work with in the activity as references in the resume. During those times, I joined and volunteered for church choir, Folklorama, Manitoba Street Festival and Winnipeg Harvest. 

4. STUDY. Before paying a tuition fee, try if you can qualify for FREE education or short courses. There are many agencies that offers FREE for newcomers, immigrants and those under EI. Some of them are Manitoba Start (Tap in program with partners to RRC), Success Skills (computers and some quickbook courses), OFE (trainings like Safe Food Handling, First Aid, Computers, Canadian Workplace), Apprenticeship MB at 111 Lombard (free consultation and financial assistance for qualifying courses).
For welders or those who want a career change, please see LINK: These are only a few examples which I have applied for during those times. Yes, I actually took an exam in welding and passed it but for the interview I have to tell them to give the slot to someone else who deserves more because I am still undecided.  

5. ORGANIZE YOUR THINGS and YOUR THOUGHTS. This is the right time to clean up as you have more time. It is nice to start finding a job when your beddings is nice , your bag is clean and your drawer is organize. Sell all the things you don’t use in buy and sell sites. It will be additional income too. 

There are lots of things to do while finding a suitable job for you. While jobless and unemployed, take this opportunity to improve yourself so you will face your next employer with more confidence and you are better equipped with trainings and information. Instead of feeling BITTER of the situation, take the opportunity to bring out the BETTER you. 

Sooner than what you expected, an AMAZING OFFER will come to you. I was blessed to have been given a job now that I enjoy and that I love.