Passion and Employment Insurance

The Conservative government has introduced some controversial changes to the Employment Insurance program. The changes include ‘encouraging’ recipients to take jobs that are either outside of their field, at a significantly lower pay rate or further away from your home.

Frank Appleyard is an Ottawa-based writer recently let go by the National Post. Facing a tough job search, Mr. Appleyard penned this essay for Thought Out Loud, advocating the importance of following one’s heart rather than one’s wallet in one’s career:

I was a part of the furniture at the student newspaper at my university, writing and editing at all hours of the day, practicing and learning, making mistakes and swearing to never repeat them. Repeating them. Along the way I seized every opportunity that was even the smallest of steps toward this career. In journalism classes I endlessly studied and dissected the wordplay of the best scribes in the business. I wrote, I re-wrote, I interviewed, and I edited. A lot.

All this in the name of wanting — some days maybe even needing — to enter the world occupied by the ink-stained wretches. All this to be one of them. And if this quest sounds narrow-sighted and obsessive, that’s only because it was. I never looked at journalism in the same way people look at doorknobs or refrigerators, as objects to be made and then sold. No: it was a world I aspired to belong to, and more – a mountain to be conquered. Then, a year ago, I was offered my seat at the table.

I had arrived, and although it might not have been the best job in the industry, I walked into the office every day loving what I did. I was a journalist, and little else mattered. I’d scaled this mountain, and left my ink-stained handprints on the peak.

I haven’t yet formed an opinion on the proposed EI changes, and I don’t think Mr. Appleyard’s outlook is appropriate for everyone, but I think one thing is certain; Frank can write. Not everyone is prepared to value passion over a paycheque, but he just might be.

Naturally, I wish him the best of luck.

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. Ain’t it interesting how easily the “lazy punks on welfare” grumbling leaks into things that are by design obviously not welfare?

  2. Depending on how they’re structured, I’d probably be on board with the EI changes. It’s hard on people to make those types of changes, but those types of changes are what help lead to economic recovery. It’s common to hear arguments that generous EI doesn’t delay people finding jobs, but it’s just not true. My own wife, when she was laid off from a good paying job a little over a year ago, decided to not look seriously for work for a while because she’d paid into the system for about 25 years and never taken a penny of unemployment compensation before. Had a relatively desirable job not suddenly fallen into her lap, she would have followed through on her plan. So making it less comfortable to remain on EI, while not nice, is ultimately a good policy (assuming it doesn’t go too far, although there’s plenty of room for legitimate disagreement about what goes too far).

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