Last night, the Simpson family won a small victory after Niagara Council voted unanimously to appeal to Employment Insurance and ask the government to relax its requirements for people searching for their missing loved ones.
The council will write a letter on the family's behalf in hopes of easing the financial burden on my cousin John who hopes to return to Salmon Arm to search for his daughter Ashley. Anyone who knows EI understands he is only asking for a pittance to keep him afloat as he braves the wilderness to find Ashley whose case the RCMP now considers a homicide.
Since she disappeared nearly 10 months ago, John can think of nothing else but his daughter's fate. Initially, EI rejected his claim because he couldn't prove that his daughter's disappearance was crime-related. He won his case on appeal but is now being told that he will no longer be able to collect EI if he leaves the province of Ontario, where he resides.
Losing his EI would add to the financial devastation of John's family at a time when John should be thinking about retirement.
In presenting the case, family friend Steven Soos told the council that "it is of the highest importance that...the council act to ensure the fight to find Ashley never stops. However, after 10 months, income supports for her family to continue their search for answers is dwindling."
Employment Standards does provide 52 weeks of leave for crime-related disappearance and 106 for crime-related death. But John's case is uniquely Canadian because it involves two jurisdictions.
What you can do
I am truly hoping that John wins his case, but I do believe it will take more than a letter from Niagara to get the attention of the government. So I am asking you all, those who know Ashley, or who have been following this case, to write or better yet phone Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
Here are his coordinates: Jean-Yves.Duclos@parl.gc.ca
Telephone: 613-992-8865Fax: 613-995-2805You can also write a letter. The postage is free.
If you don't know what to say, you can copy this:
I am writing on behalf of the family of John and Cindy Simpson of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario whose daughter Ashley went missing 10 months ago in Salmon Arm, British Columbia. Her case is considered a homicide by the RCMP who unfortunately have been unable to locate her.
Ashley's father John fought for, and won, an appeal which would allow him to collect Employment Insurance, and provide leave from his job. Unfortunately, he will lose that compensation if he travels to British Columbia to continue to look for Ashley.
This will create undo hardship on the family, and I am asking you to personally intervene in this matter.
I'm sure you understand there is nothing worse in the world than losing a child. It is even worse when there is no closure. The disappearance of Ashley has devastated this family.
Our social safety net was designed many years ago to offer short-term assistance to Canadians in need. Please consider reviewing this case, and allowing John to receive financial assistance so he can help in efforts to locate his daughter.
c.c. (you can find the name and coordinates of your local MP here.)