Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

National

Liberals pledge $253 million to undo Tory-era changes to benefits tribunal

Published

on

If you like this, share it!




  • OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are promising to spend more than $250 million to revamp the body Canadians turn to with disputes over access to federal benefits, partially restoring the system that existed before the Conservatives created the Social Security Tribunal.

    The tribunal hears appeals of government decisions on things like eligibility for employment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan that, before 2013, were overseen by four separate bodies.

    Key changes included cutting the number of people hearing most cases from three to one, and replacing part-time hearing officials in many places with full-time staff in fewer locations.

    In an interview this week, Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the government will bring back the three-person hearings for the first layer of benefit appeals — in a body separate from the tribunal — and retain the tribunal’s single arbitrator for the second, and final, layer.

    He said the changes respond to rare agreement from labour and employer groups that some sort of return to the three-panel hearing system was needed.

    Tuesday’s federal budget proposes spending $253.8 million over five years, beginning in April, to make the system easier to navigate and shorten decision times. Details about when changes will happen are to be rolled out later.

    “It was felt by EI commissioners and the stakeholder communities, both employers and employees, that there was a lack of transparency, and a lack of collaboration in the way in which the system was working,” Duclos said in an interview Wednesday.

    “So despite the fact that it was not in my mandate letter, we did feel that it was important to transform the system and there will, therefore, be a return to a tripartite system — more fair, more respectful, faster, (and) more collaborative.”

    When the Conservatives unveiled their plans to create the Social Security Tribunal, they argued it would streamline the appeals process and save millions of dollars.

    A report last year from consulting firm KPMG estimated the tribunal saved federal coffers about $22.6 million a year, but waits for decisions also shot up as the tribunal was undermanned and overwhelmed with cases and didn’t have a proper transition plan.

    Average timelines for decisions increased from approximately 44 days to more than 200, and in the worst case, average wait times of 884 days for decisions on CPP disability benefits that were highlighted in a critical 2016 auditor general’s report.

    What the Liberals heard in closed-door meetings and consultations with stakeholders, labour and employers groups, as well as experts over the last three years were calls for a return to the system as it existed before the tribunal’s creation.

    At the same time, the KPMG report warned against that, arguing the tribunal could be improved, and some who worked in the system felt things were much better than what existed before.

    “(I)t became eventually very clear to me in conversations with employers and employees — and I can tell you there was a consensus, which is rare in that environment … that we needed to transform, to reform that system for all sorts of reasons,” Duclos said. “The first was that it was very unfair, very complex and to the most vulnerable workers in our country, it was not only unfair, but also very slow.”

    The tribunal has been changing its operations as officials waited for the budget announcement to publicly detail the future of the tribunal.

    Appellants can choose whether to have hearings in person, on the phone or by videoconference. Rule changes have also made it easier to launch appeals and wait times have dropped. The backlog of cases has fallen from about 7,250 in April 2017 to 3,925 at the end of last year.

    The budget shows that there will be $36 million spent on the overhaul over the next 12 months, rising to $59 million in fiscal year 2021-2022, and setting in at $57 million annually thereafter.

    — Follow @jpress on Twitter.

    Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


    If you like this, share it!

    Environment

    Quebec officials maintain flood warnings for many areas as heavy rain expected

    Published

    on

    If you like this, share it!




  • MONTREAL — Environment Canada is maintaining its heavy rain warnings for many parts of Quebec today, keeping property owners near lakes and rivers on high alert for flooding.

    Water levels, already quite high, are expected to rise sharply with warm temperatures, snowmelt runoff and the heavy rainfall forecast through Saturday.

    Public safety officials say minor flooding has already occurred in the Montreal area, as well as the Outaouais, the Eastern Townships and central Quebec.

    Earlier this week, the Chaudiere River burst its banks, flooding a large part of Beauceville, south of Quebec City. Officials there called it the worst flooding since 1971.

    Thomas Blanchet, a spokesman for the province’s public safety department, says they want residents to be ready for flooding that could come quickly this weekend, and are imploring them to follow the instructions of local officials.

    Blanchet says while there are no official evacuation orders currently in the province, some municipalities have issued preventative orders.

    The Canadian Press


    If you like this, share it!
    Continue Reading

    National

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to visit Canada next weekend, April 27-28

    Published

    on

    If you like this, share it!




  • OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, when the latter visits Canada next weekend.

    Abe and Trudeau’s two-day meeting on April 27 and 28 will centre on the upcoming G20 summit in Osaka in late June, as well strengthening ties between the two countries.

    Trudeau’s office says in a statement the two will also discuss the revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which the PMO says has created opportunities in both countries.

    The Canadian and Japanese leaders are expected to address the media after holding their bilateral meeting.

    The pair most recently spoke at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ meeting in Papua, New Guinea, last November.

    Abe’s upcoming visit to Canada is part of a week-long trip to Europe and North America that includes stops in the United States, France, Italy, Slovakia and Belgium, as Japan prepares to play host to the G20.

    The Canadian Press


    If you like this, share it!
    Continue Reading

    april, 2019

    fri8mar - 30aprmar 85:30 pmapr 30Real Estate Dinner Theatre(march 8) 5:30 pm - (april 30) 10:00 pm

    sat20apr1:00 pm- 4:00 pmMAGSaturday @ the MuseumMAGnificent Saturdays welcomes all ages and abilities to participate in a fun art project every week! 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

    tue23apr5:30 pm- 7:00 pmLiving Life to the FullCanadian Mental Health Association5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

    thu25apr8:30 am- 4:30 pmApplied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)Canadian Mental Health Association8:30 am - 4:30 pm

    fri26apr8:30 am- 4:30 pmApplied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)Canadian Mental Health Association8:30 am - 4:30 pm

    sat27apr1:00 pm- 4:00 pmMAGSaturday @ the MuseumMAGnificent Saturdays welcomes all ages and abilities to participate in a fun art project every week! 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

    mon29apr1:30 pm- 4:00 pmWellness Recovery Action PlanningCanadian Mental Health Association1:30 pm - 4:00 pm

    tue30apr5:30 pm- 7:00 pmLiving Life to the FullCanadian Mental Health Association5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

    Trending

    X