Helping middle-class Canadians with the support they need
Government of Canada announces new reforms to the Social Security Tribunal
August 15, 2019 Ottawa, Ontario Employment and Social Development Canada
Employment Insurance (EI), the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) provide important support to millions of middle-class Canadians every year. At times, people may disagree with decisions made regarding their claims or benefits. When that occurs, Canadians deserve an appeal process that delivers appropriate decisions in a timely way.
Today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, announced the important reforms to the Social Security Tribunal listed below. These reforms put people at the heart of the appeal process and make it quicker, easier and more responsive to the needs of Canadians.
- Creation of specially trained case navigators
Specially trained case navigators will be hired to assist individuals in understanding and navigating the appeal process. Case navigators will guide appellants through the appeal process by proactively contacting them at various stages to provide information on the process, including required documentation, hearing proceedings and next steps. Case navigators are there to support appellants through the process and will not play an advocacy role nor provide any form of legal advice.
- Introducing the new Employment Insurance Boards of Appeal
The Canada Employment Insurance Commission will become responsible for first-level EI appeals through the creation of a new tripartite decision-making tribunal called the Employment Insurance Boards of Appeal. As a tripartite organization, the new Boards of Appeal will represent the interests of government, workers and employers, helping put first-level EI appeal decisions back into the hands of those who pay into the EI system (i.e. workers and employers). Second-level appeals will still be heard by the Appeal Division under the Social Security Tribunal.
- Second-level “de novo” hearings
Specific to second-level income security appeals (OAS, CPP and Canada Pension Plan–Disability), appellants will be allowed to introduce new evidence that was not present during their first-level appeal, resulting in a new and final decision on eligibility for benefits. This approach, commonly called “de novo,” better responds to the nature of disability claims by recognizing that new medical evidence can emerge over time.
- One-year extension for income security appellants
Income security appellants (OAS, CPP and Canada Pension Plan–Disability) will have twice as long (up to two years instead of just one) to gather evidence at the first level of appeal, allowing them to present their best case.
These changes are expected to come into force in April 2021, which provides the necessary time to ensure a smooth transition and proper management of the caseload. Until the changes are implemented, the Social Security Tribunal will continue to ensure that first level EI appeals are processed efficiently and effectively.
The changes are part of the Government of Canada’s commitment, as stated in Budget 2019, to make the appeal and recourse process for EI, CPP and OAS easier to navigate and more responsive. The changes build on the recommendations of a 2017 independent review of the Social Security Tribunal of Canada and on the views expressed by Canadians through subsequent consultations. These changes will ensure the appeal process is more responsive to the needs of Canadians.
These improvements reflect the views of stakeholders, including labour and employer groups, which advocated for a return to the former EI first level of appeal system, finding it simpler, faster and focused on clients.
“Today’s announcement is about putting people at the heart of the appeal process; it is about making it quicker, easier and more responsive to their needs.”
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
“I am satisfied that the Government heard workers’ concerns with respect to the EI appeal process. Minister Duclos proceeded in the most responsible way in this file; undertaking an external review and by engaging with stakeholders, workers and employers, to generate a workable alternative that will better serve appellants. This is how Government should operate.”
– Pierre Laliberté, Commissioner for Workers.
“Employers want to see laid-off workers and other eligible EI recipients get timely, correct case decisions, and they appreciate the opportunity to do their part in the new appeal boards being created. This will reinvigorate the spirit of tri-partism that is at the heart of the foundation of the Employment Insurance program going back almost 80 years.”
– Judith Andrew, Commissioner for Employers.
The Government of Canada and the Social Security Tribunal have already implemented a number of improvements to reduce wait times and offer better support to appellants during the appeal process.
Processing times for EI appeals are now faster than at the time of the 2017 review of the Tribunal.
The Tribunal began its operations on April 1, 2013, and was created as a single window to replace four administrative tribunals that made decisions on appeals related to EI and income security programs.
The Tribunal is currently structured with the following two levels of appeal:
- An appellant who disagrees with an Employment and Social Development Canada or Canada Employment Insurance Commission decision related to their benefits may appeal the decision to the General Division of the Tribunal.
- An appellant may appeal any decision issued by the Tribunal’s General Division to the Appeal Division of the Tribunal, but cannot introduce new evidence.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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