Unemployment in Canada: making your next move

Nobody wants to get laid off of their job. But sometimes, even if you’re a hard worker who is good at your job, you can find yourself sitting across from your manager, having that difficult discussion. Cost cuts, staff reduction and mergers or buyout at your company can put you in a precarious position.

Luckily, in Canada, workers who find themselves unemployed have a variety of support and resources from both governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to presenting work opportunities to residents of Canada. Here’s a look at the steps you should take to minimize the stress of unemployment in Canada, stay on your feet, and turn a tough situation into an opportunity.

Apply for Employment Insurance (EI)

Many citizens, permanent residents, and those on a work permit who have a valid SIN and can remain in Canada during their unemployment benefits period  are eligible for federal temporary financial assistance. It’s best to apply for EI benefits as soon as you have stopped working, and if you delay for longer than four weeks, you risk being unable to receive benefits. On average, eligible individuals receive 55 per cent of their former average insurable weekly earnings. You can apply for EI at home by completing the online application, or visit a Service Canada Centre.

Understand your rights

Depending on your contract with your employer, you may be entitled to compensations like termination pay, vacation pay or severance pay. Whether or not you receive these could depend on a number of factors. These could include, for instance, whether or not you are part of a union, the terms and conditions of your employment contact, and the length of time you have been employed. That’s why its so importance for you to review all your contracts and agreements, and understand what you are owed. If you are going to negotiate a severance package, it’s a good idea to do it right away, and you can also talk to your employer about creating an “exit story” that frames your layoff as a voluntary departure.

Don’t Burn Bridges

It’s understandable that a layoff can leave you feeling hurt, angry and aggressive, especially during the first few days following the bad news. That’s why its a good idea to wait a few days before discussing it with anyone other than your closest friends and family members, until you’re emotions have had some time to cool down. This will also give you some time to think about what you would really like your next steps to be. When you do start talking about the impending change in your life, stay positive. Explain to your coworkers and colleagues that you’ve got an opportunity to find a job that suits you, or start that new career you’re always wanted. When discussing it, don’t shy away from the details about your future intents and interest, either. The more information you give, the more your community will be able to provide you with leads, advice and connections.

Unemployment in Canada

Review your spending and create a budget

Your wallet may feel a little empty for the next for weeks or months, that’s why rather than being worried and confused about how you should adjust your spending, take some real time to evaluate your financial situation. Organize your family finances, to understand where your money needs to go, and calculate the amount of money that it costs you to pay for your needs.  You should be prioritizing the necessary expenses, like rent or mortgage, utilities, food and minimum debt payments. You can also assess the money you’ve been spending on “want,” like trips to the golf course, weekend getaways, the best internet packages, new clothes, and dinners out at restaurants. After that, you can create a budget to keep yourself from overspending and letting the “wants” get out of control.

Be proactive about your job search

Scrolling through endless postings for less-than ideal jobs on boards like Indeed and Workopolis can be exhausting and discouraging, especially when you take the time to create personalized cover letters for each application, only to receive no response from the companies. While it’s not a bad idea to use these jobs boards to look for opportunities, they shouldn’t be your focus. When you get laid off, take the time to really think about the job you want, and the companies you would like to work for. Be proactive by contacting HR departments directly, or stopping by in person to tell them about your skills, interests and abilities – employers really appreciate this human touch, and you’ll be putting a face to your applications. You should also be using your social network to find leads. Your friends, family and acquaintances can give you inside information on opportunities they are aware about.

Revamp your personal materials

As soon as you find yourself in a position of unemployment in Canada, make it a priority to update your resume so that it reflects your experience. Along the same lines, don’t delay on updating your social media outlets, like LinkedIn and Facebook, to broadcast the fact that you’re seeking new employment and the desired position. When it comes to LinkedIn, you can use the “Current” section of your profile to announce that you are looking for a specific type of work. All your contacts will be able to see this, and you’ll quickly get on their radars – you may land a job this way, or at least attention from contacts that could point you in the right direction. You can even ask your contacts to get in touch with you if they know of any companies or individuals who could be in need of someone with your expertise.

Unemployment in Canada

Stay positive

Whether or not you maintain a positive and optimistic attitude is the number one deciding factor in how you feel during your period of unemployment in Canada. Staying positive is the best way to combat low self-esteem and an inclination to stop trying. Keep in mind, while it’s not easy being unemployed, you really do have an opportunity to throw yourself into the pursuit of your ideal new job or career ambition.

Good luck with all your professional ambitions, from Settle-in.com!

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Photos: Kevin Dooley, Ken TeegardinMeridican,

About Jerry

Before my family and I relocated to Canada where I received a teaching opportunity at one of the country’s renowned universities, my wife and kids were naturally full of questions. What would the schools be like? How does healthcare work? Is Canadian French very different than European French? What about Canadian English verses European English? How cold are those frigid northern winters we’ve heard so much about? The only way to fully understand a new city or country is to experience it first-hand. My family and I decided to embrace our relocation as an adventure. Years after the move, we still consider “The Great White North” our home, and we couldn’t be more satisfied with our quality of life here. // Avant que ma famille et moi-même soyons relocalisés au Canada parce que j’ai eu l’opportunité d’aller enseigner dans l’une des universités assez réputée du pays, ma femme et mes enfants avaient naturellement beaucoup de questions. A quoi ressemblent les écoles ? Comment fonctionne le système de santé ? Le français canadien est-il vraiment différent de celui parlé en France ? L’anglais canadien est-il vraiment différent de celui parlé en Europe? Est-ce que les hivers sont vraiment très rigoureux? La meilleure façon de comprendre entièrement une nouvelle ville et un pays est d’en faire personnellement l’expérience. Ma famille et moi avons décidé de voir la relocalisation comme une aventure. Quelques années plus tard, nous considérons “Le Grand Nord Blanc” comme notre maison et nous ne pourrions pas être plus satisfaits.