Focus On

Government assistance programs - Social assistance - Entitlement - Disabled persons - Appeals and judicial review

Thursday, September 08, 2016 @ 8:00 PM  

Appeal by the petitioner from the dismissal of his petition for judicial review of the Chair’s decision declining to consider his appeal from the Ministry’s refusal of his request to reopen decisions made four years earlier. The appellant and his wife were in receipt of social assistance under various provincial statutory regimes from 1986 until November 10, 2010, when he turned 65 years of age. At that time, they began receiving federal income assistance. Beginning in September 2010, the appellant sought to have the Ministry designate him with the status of “a person who had persistent multiple barriers to employment” and to provide him with “medical services only” benefits. After the Ministry denied those applications, the appellant unsuccessfully sought reconsideration of them. The appellant appealed to the Tribunal, which denied the appeal finding that it did not have jurisdiction as the Employment and Assistance Act (Act) did not provide the appellant with a right to appeal. Before making her decision, the Chair, contrary to the Tribunal’s practices and procedures, did not notify the parties in writing that the matter appeared to be outside the jurisdiction of the Tribunal and did not invite the parties to make submissions on the issue of jurisdiction. The appellant then sought judicial review of the Chair’s decision. The chambers judge upheld the decision of the Tribunal and dismissed the application for judicial review. The appellant argued that the judge erred in upholding the Chair’s decision that the Tribunal did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal and in concluding that the Tribunal’s failure to give notice of the jurisdictional question was not unfair.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The right to reconsideration under s. 17 of the Act applied only to certain classes of decisions— not to a refusal to reopen. The Tribunal’s failure to provide the appellant with notice and an opportunity to make submissions regarding jurisdiction did not, in all of the circumstances, lead to an unfair result.