Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 4 - Section 2
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 is 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 benefits is made, was a week of unemployment (FCA A-515-00, CUB 47481). Therefore, the claimant is required to provide all relevant information or documentary evidence that the Commission may deem necessary under the circumstances; otherwise, benefits may be denied.
4.2.2 Evidence inadequate
Failure to submit evidence may support a disentitlement to benefits under either of the following instances: the claimant has not provided the Commission with all the information considered necessary under the circumstances, or has not submitted the requested documentary evidence in support of 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 judgment of the adjudicator. Of course, the more convincing the statement, the less requirement for supporting proof. On the other hand, any type of proof may be accepted depending on what is feasible and practical under 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. Statements that appear unconvincing or are otherwise not readily credible shall be carefully examined. Substantiation from another source, documentary evidence or further explanations that would shed light on the situation, may be requested from the claimant. Verification with a third party may also be initiated.
The claimant is not required to provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt, as is the case in criminal matters (FCA A-281-95, CUB 25973A; FCA A-515-00, CUB 47481). It is sufficient that the information and documentary evidence provided leads the adjudicator to the conclusion that the claimant was unemployed during the week for which benefits are claimed.
4.2.3 Contradictory statements
Contradictory statements from an individual would raise serious doubts about the accuracy of the facts as reported by that individual. This is particularly true on points that appear to be in the personal interest of the claimant, but may not be completely accurate. This is why statements made before the consequences of those statements are known, are often more credible than subsequent statements (FCA A-515-00, CUB 47481; FCA A-557-96, CUB 30578; Digest 10.3.2). On the other hand, a subsequent statement may be intended 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 be accepted as fully credible, even if it contradicts an earlier one, or 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 verified, or what type of proof can be requested to clarify the situation. If it appears the claimant may be able to provide evidence which would eliminate all doubt, this evidence must be requested; if it is not provided, the claimant will be disentitled from benefits for failing to provide 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 it should be given, then a determination will be made as to which facts are considered most credible. Finally, the claim will be allowed if the accepted facts lead to a reasonable conclusion 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 statement that leads to a disentitlement from benefits will later deny all or part of that statement. It is not enough to contend that the initial statement did not give a true picture of the individual’s activities during the alleged period of unemployment (Digest 10.3.2). This is all the more true if the claimant has clearly made efforts to conceal the activities at the time they were to be reported on the weekly claimant's report (CUB 60607).
If the claimant contends that the activities reported in the first statement are not accurate, any correction will need to be confirmed by another source or supported by documentary evidence, rather than verbally only; otherwise, the original statement will be used to determine entitlement to benefits. However, a reasonable explanation meant to clarify an unclear or ambiguous part of the statement may be accepted without further clarification or proof (Digest 10.3.1).
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