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GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS - Social assistance - Funding and payments - Recovery from recipient - Overpayments

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 @ 6:18 AM  


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Appeal by Cann from an order of the Social Services Appeal Board dismissing his appeal from the Director’s decision clawing back $378 of the appellant’s monthly income assistance benefits after he received a payment of $740 under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program. The appellant received income assistance due to a disability. He applied for CERB because he was unable to pay for expenses associated with his service dog. Applying the work incentive provisions under the Assistance Regulation to the $740 resulted in an exemption of $362. The Director considered the remainder of the CERB payment of $378 to be a financial resource that reduced the amount of income assistance payable to the appellant. The Board concluded that the appellant did not meet the eligibility criteria for the CERB and that the Director had thus correctly assessed the overpayment. 

HELD: Appeal allowed. The Board erred by considering the appellant’s entitlement to the CERB in reviewing the Director’s decision to claw back $378 of his income assistance benefits. It was the Federal Minister’s responsibility to determine eligibility. The question for the Board was not whether the appellant was eligible for the CERB, but whether the $740 was a financial resource as defined by the Manitoba Assistance Act and the Regulation. While it was clear that the appellant had an obligation to immediately report to the Director any material changes in circumstances that might affect his entitlement to, or the amount of, income assistance, his failure to report the $740 until after his income assistance benefits had been paid did not mean he received income assistance to which he was not entitled. The CERB payment he received was also a liquid asset and was, therefore, exempted from the determination of his financial resources under s. 8(1)(a)(iv) of the Regulation and from the calculation of his monthly income assistance benefits. The CERB payment was a one-time payment and did not have the character of regularity.

Cann v. Fort Garry/River Heights (Director), [2021] M.J. No. 267, Manitoba Court of Appeal, M.M. Monnin, J.L. Lemaistre and L.T. Spivak JJ.A., September 13, 2021. Digest No. TLD-October112021003