Unemployed workers continue to struggle despite businesses reopening

Curling Up: Sherika Broomfield spends time exploring the internet on her phone in Calgary on June 9. Broomfield worked as a gymnastics coach at the Calgary Gymnastics Centre, but is now relying on government benefits since being laid off during COVID-19. (Photo by Sadia Chaudhry/The Press)

Even as businesses in Calgary are allowed to reopen, some are not, which has left many people unemployed and facing financial instability.

For those who remain jobless, there are ongoing concerns about filing for unemployment benefits, paying off bills, saving for the future, and managing their mental health.

Ariba Bajwa is a medical student at the University of Calgary . She worked part-time at the university’s Student Union to save up for future education.

Bajwa has been on a continuous hold while she independently works towards her future savings.

Her goal for this summer was to gain as much work experience as possible, but with the university’s campus closure, she has considered other employment opportunities.

“I now cannot get a good enough job position somewhere else, that would meet my needs as a university student,” said Bajwa.

Bajwa says being at home and constantly worrying about her future led her to develop bad eating habits and an irregular sleeping schedule, which has taken a toll on her mental health.

Despite unemployment challenges, some relief had been provided by the government benefits.

Sherika Broomfield worked as a gymnastics coach at the Calgary Gymnastics Centre. She has been relying on government benefits.

She says she might have to continue since her workplace has not guaranteed employee return.

“I’ve missed two months’ insurance payments and managed to push back out house bills, since my family and I are new house owners,” said Broomfield.

Broomfield and her family are also limiting nonessential purchases.

“There’re so many things to be stressed about. Being at home with the same people all the time can lead to arguments,” said Broomfield. “Which is a different level of stress.”

The Broomfield family decided to get a dog. Broomfield says the dog has brought a positive environment into their household, which was needed.

Harsimran Singh is one of the few fortunate individuals who were provided with paid temporary leave. Though Singh wasn’t impacted personally with financial struggles, his friends were.

“I was worried and felt like there was nothing I could do to help,” said Singh.

Singh says seeing his friends struggle allowed him to gain a mindset to not take anything for granted in the future.

One thing I’ve learned is that nothing is permanent, you can have the best job in the world and be the best employee, but anything can come up and take it away from you. – Ariba Bajwa

Singh and Broomfield both say they will be taking extra saving measures in the future, “since you never know what can happen.”

Bajwa says she’s learned that you should always have a backup source of income, because we’re living proof of future uncertainty.