Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 4 - Section 2

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Chapter 4 — Week of unemployment

4.2.0 Proof

In order to discharge its duties in administering the employment insurance program, the Commission has the duty to gather all the information required to determine whether a claimant is eligible for benefits. This information is then examined under the relevant sections of the legislation and the claimant notified of its decision. Of course, the information collected is not always as complete or convincing as it should be, and it is at this point that questions of proof may arise.

4.2.1 Onus of proof

It is up to the claimant to prove that any week for which a claim for benefit is made was a week of unemployment Footnote 1 . Therefore, the claimant is required to provide in all honesty any relevant information or documentary evidence that the Commission may deem necessary under the circumstances; otherwise, payment of benefit might be denied.

4.2.2 Evidence inadequate

Failure to adduce evidence may support disentitlement to benefits under either of the following instances: the claimant has not provided the Commission with all the information considered necessary in the circumstances, or has not adduced the requested documentary evidence in support of the statements made.

No hard and fast rule exists as to whether a particular statement must be accepted at face value or supported by documentary evidence. A short statement from an interested party cannot, in all cases, be qualified as credible or not credible. Furthermore, depending on the circumstances, it may or may not be possible to provide some sort of substantiation. This is left to the discretion and good judgment of the adjudicating authorities. Of course, the more convincing the statement, the less important the supporting proof. On the other hand, any type of proof whatever may be accepted depending on what is feasible and practical in the circumstances.

The general rule is that a statement made by the claimant or another person may be accepted at face value provided it is plausible and does not conflict with other information received from the same or another source. Those statements that appear unconvincing or are otherwise not readily credible shall be carefully examined. Substantiation from another source or documentary evidence or further explanations that would shed light on the situation may be requested from the claimant, or a verification with a third party may be initiated.

The proof required here is in no way that beyond a reasonable doubt, as is the case in criminal matters Footnote 2 . It suffices that the adjudicating authorities, based on the information and documentary evidence, be more inclined to believe rather than disbelieve that the claimant was unemployed during the week for which benefit is claimed.

4.2.3 Contradictory statements

Contradictory statements from an individual obviously raise serious doubts about the veracity of the facts as reported by that individual. This is true particularly on points that seem dictated by concern for personal interest rather than concern for accuracy. This is why statements made before their consequences are known are often more credible Footnote 3 . On the other hand, a subsequent statement may be meant to provide corrections that do not serve the author's best interest, thereby showing a concern for accuracy over personal interest. Such a statement may become fully credible even if it contradicts an earlier one, and even in the absence of documentary evidence supporting it.

When confronted with contradictory information coming from the same or different sources, consideration must first be given to how and with whom this may be checked or what type of proof can be required to clarify the whole situation. If it appears possible for the claimant to provide some sort of evidence which would eliminate all doubt, this must certainly be requested; if the evidence is not provided, the claimant will be disentitled to benefits by reason of not adducing the requested proof.

If the above situation does not lend itself to this approach, or if the information still remains contradictory, then a decision as to whether the claimant is entitled to benefits will be made on the balance of probabilities. This means that each statement will be scrutinized in order to determine how much weight should be given to it; then a determination will be made as to which facts are to be taken as the most credible; finally, the claim will be allowed if the accepted facts are such as to make one more inclined to believe than not to believe that the claimant was unemployed during the week under consideration.

4.2.4 Original statement denied

Frequently, a claimant who has been interviewed and has made a self-disqualifying statement will later deny that part of the statement that has led to disentitlement from benefits. It is not enough to contend that the initial statement did not give a true picture of the activities engaged in during the alleged period of unemployment Footnote 4 . This is all the more true if the claimant has gone to some effort to conceal them at the very time they were to be reported on the weekly claimant's report Footnote 5 .

If the claimant contends that the activities reported in the first statement are not accurate, any correction will have to be confirmed by another source or supported by documentary evidence rather than by words only; otherwise, the original statement remains as is Footnote 6 . However, a reasonable explanation meant to clarify an unclear or ambiguous part of the statement may be admissible Footnote 7 .

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