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  • CUB 21825

    IN THE MATTER of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1971

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    IN THE MATTER of a claim by
    Gloria Kuntz

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    IN THE MATTER of an appeal to an Umpire by the claimant
    from a decision by the Board of Referees given at
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on April 10, 1991.




    The claimant had worked in Brandon, Manitoba as a clerk typist until August 3, 1990 when she left her job to join her husband in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan where he had been established for many years. She applied for benefits which commenced in August, 1990 and continued to be paid for many months thereafter. In an interview in February, 1991 the claimant indicated to the Commission that she was only willing to work in Hudson Bay but was prepared to accept a wage as low as $6 per hour, whereas in Brandon she had been earning $10 per hour. In March the Commission obtained labour market information which indicated that there were very few job opportunities in Hudson Bay, particularly in light of the fact that there had been plant closures there. On March 18, 1991 the Commission determined that the claimant was disentitled to benefits commencing March 3, 1991 because she had not proven that she was available for work having moved from a large centre (Brandon) and now being willing only to accept employment in Hudson Bay where chances of finding work were extremely limited. She appealed that decision and a Board of Referees, while upholding the basic decision of the Commission, felt that she should have been given a warning before being disentitled. The Board treated the notice of March 18, 1991 as a warning and proceeded to postpone her disentitlement until April 15, 1991. The claimant appeals that decision alleging error of fact.

    It is true that there is much jurisprudence to the effect that where a person moves from a larger centre with more employment opportunities to a small centre with few employment opportunities he or she can only receive Unemployment Insurance benefits for a reasonable time while looking for work in that smaller centre. If the claimant is unsuccessful, and if he or she is not willing to look elsewhere for work, then benefits may be terminated. It is typical in such cases that benefits are paid for periods of twelve to twenty weeks or thereabouts and such periods are deemed to be reasonable. In the present case the claimant received benefits for thirty-two weeks.

    However, as my colleague Reed J. has pointed out in Sanghera, CUB 18174, 1990, there is no statutory basis for this jurisprudence and it warrants reconsideration. She refused to apply it in that case and the Commission did not proceed with an appeal of her decision. I believe the present case is another situation where that jurisprudence should not be applied. It is not disputed that, as the claimant says, there is no significant community within one hundred miles of Hudson Bay and therefore the effect of the Commission's ruling is that she may not continue to collect benefits unless she is prepared to leave Hudson Bay and move to another, larger, community. Yet, as the claimant points out, during the period when she was in receipt of benefits there were many long-term residents of Hudson Bay who had become unemployed through plant closures but who continued to collect benefits for the whole year. The Commission did not require them to move out of Hudson Bay, to larger communities with more opportunities, in order for them to collect benefits. I am unable to discern any insurance or other principle which justifies this difference in treatment between the claimant and the unemployed long-term residents of Hudson Bay, nor does the Act or Regulations require such a distinction being made. I think this situation must be distinguished from those where a wider job search is reasonably available within commuting distance of the community to which the claimant has moved.

    The appeal is therefore allowed and the decisions of the Board of Referees and the Commission are set aside.

    B.L. Strayer


    Ottawa, Ontario
    June 22, 1992