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SOCIAL ASSISTANCE - Entitlement - Disabled persons - Refusal to provide assistance - Social assistance boards and commissions - Powers

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 @ 8:21 AM  

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Appeal by Marano from a 2015 decision of the Social Benefits Tribunal refusing to order the Director to pay him disability benefits from the date of his original application for benefits in 2012. In 2012, the Director had dismissed the appellant’s original application for benefits for failing to provide sufficient information to prove that he met the financial eligibility criteria of the program. The appellant successfully appealed that decision to the Tribunal in 2013. The Director then determined that the appellant was ineligible for disability benefits because did not suffer from a disability that qualified for benefits. Just before Marano’s appeal was heard, the Director decided that Marano was medically eligible for benefits. When benefits were not paid in June 2014, the appellant filed a new application for benefits in 2014. The Director again decided that Marano was not financially eligible for benefits.  The appellant successfully appealed that decision and asked the Tribunal to order the Director to pay benefits back to 2012 when he first applied for them. Rather than deciding the question of the date of the appellant’s eligibility to start receiving benefits as he requested, the Tribunal held that its jurisdiction was limited to assessing whether the Director's 2014 decision rejecting the appellant’s 2014 application was correct or incorrect.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The Tribunal's remedial jurisdiction was not limited to finding whether the Director's impugned decision was correct or incorrect. When the Tribunal granted an appeal, the Ontario Disability Support Program Act enabled the Tribunal to make any decision that the Director could have made. Once it rescinded the Director's decision that the appellant was ineligible, the Tribunal therefore had jurisdiction to order the Director to pay benefits to the appellant. There was no basis in the record for the appellant to have had to file a "new" application in 2014. The Director's submissions to the Tribunal merged the two applications and demonstrated that the Director treated the two applications as one and the same. By paying benefits only to the date of the 2014 application, the Director avoided making a decision concerning the date of eligibility of the appellant to receive benefits under the initial 2012 application. The Tribunal ought to have ordered the Director to pay ODSP benefits to Marano as the immediate effect of rescinding the Director's September 2014 decision. The Director had no reasonable basis to limit Marano's eligibility for benefits to September 2014. In order to give effect to the Tribunal's decisions and its reasons, and to ensure fair and proper compliance with the statutory scheme, the Director was ordered to pay ODSP benefits to Marano effective September 2012.

Marano v. Ontario (Director, Ontario Disability Support Program),  [2017] O.J. No. 1286, Ontario Superior Court of Justice - Divisional Court, F.P. Kiteley, E.R. Kruzick and F.L. Myers JJ., March 14, 2017. Digest No. TLD-Apr172017004