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Further Commentary

by Allison Schmidt 28 June 2012 13:23

PSAC calls for transparency on service cuts as thousands more federal workers are told they could lose their jobs

Canada NewsWire

OTTAWA, June 27, 2012 /CNW/ - Canada's largest federal public sector union says that 3,889 of its members in 13 departments are being told today they could lose their jobs.

"This government is misleading Canadians when it says these cuts won't impact services we all rely on," said PSAC's national president Robyn Benson. "We need Stephen Harper and his Ministers to stop hiding behind spin and start talking to all Canadians about the services we are losing."

The union says it is frustrated at the lack of information being provided about what these job cuts are going to mean for services.

"The departments are telling us very little about what programs and services are being cut, and they aren't telling the public either," said Benson. "We worry that Canadians aren't going to know what services and programs are being eliminated until they are gone."

Since the federal budget was tabled on March 29, 2012, 16,873 PSAC members in 44 federal government departments and agencies have been told they could lose their jobs.

The government can and should respond to requests from the Parliamentary Budget Officer for information on the nature and scope of cuts to services and programs that Canadians rely on.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada: HRSDC is hardest hit, with 1,964 PSAC members being told today they could lose their jobs, adding to the 1,022 PSAC members in that department who received notices in April. Of those receiving notices today about 1,450 work for Service Canada. Very little information has been provided to PSAC's component, the Canada Employment and Immigration Union, about what programs are being cut or how services to the public will be affected. Cuts to Service Canada are especially troubling as it is impossible that frontline services won't be affected with the jobs of so many of its 23,000 employees in question.

As per changes announced in the budget bill around the appeals process for the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and Employment Insurance, it is anticipated that all the PSAC members working in the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals, Pension Appeals Board, the EI Board of Referees and the EI Office of the Umpire are among those receiving notices today. These changes are seriously compromising access to fair appeals for more vulnerable Canadians, including people with disabilities, seniors and the unemployed.



Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/772460#ixzz1z7Lug8Qz

Another News Report on the Social Security Tribunal

by Allison Schmidt 28 June 2012 12:52

Although this news report in the Huffington Post was written about the EI appeals system it highlights some of the issues that also relate to Canada Pension Plan disability beneifts.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/25/ei-reivew-board-scrapped_n_1545421.html

Highlights from the article include:

How will one member tribunal member hear the 26,000 EI appeals and the approximately 4000 CPP appeals in a timely fashion when there will only be 74 appointed members.

The present system is not an inefficient system - that the system is an informal process heard at a local level which allowed people to feel like they were getting a fair hearing by people in the community.

The it is unclear how 74 members are gong to handle the caseload of all the appeal tribunals.

That it is a going to be a more complicated system and a poorly thought out change.

 

This is not surprising as I have been saying it since the Feds announced this was going to happen. I have heard that the good people at the Pension Appeals Board as well as the Review Tribunal were handed "affected" notices. I am very sorry for them as they do a very professional job ensuring that the appeals are heard in a fair and credible manner. Interesting as apparently this is the Fed's goal with the new Social Security Tribunal. I have been told many times - if it ain't broke no need to fix it. I just think the government fix is solely based on how they are going to save money - and who gives a rat's patootie about the person trying to secure a pension because they are disabled.

I just do not understand how the bureaucrats in Ottawa can be so short-sighted and it seems they have not done any community consultation on how these changes are going to impact the Canadian public - let alone at their most vulnerable times.

Okay all of you that are in the appeals system - hang on to your hat's folks - because who knows how this is all going to work out - or how on earth 74 members are going to hear a huge number of back logged cases. Can you really expect people to believe that they are going to get a thorough review or appeal with this kind of back log - I doubt it very much. And still no one even knows or can tell me how these new appeals are going to be heard - only that they think by paper or teleconferencing. Hmmmm.

 

 

 

New Team Members coming to DCAC

by Allison Schmidt 22 June 2012 13:42

Well after many years of running DCAC on my own - I am pleased to announce that I have added two new team members to better service everyone's needs. I will make formal announcements shortly. The new team members will be able to assist me as DCAC expands and grows offering services from coast to coast. Very exciting news indeed.

I am also working on some really exciting changes to the website - lots of interactive devices that will help you understand the legislative tenants of Canada Pension Plan disability.

Thank you to all the people who call me weekly - it is a pleasure to speak with you all - and also for your kind words of encouragement about my work and the website.

Have a great weekend. Talk soon.

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The Review Tribunal Panel Member who spoke up

by Allison Schmidt 15 June 2012 10:46

I found this in the National Post newspaper dated May 23rd, 2012 - and whoever the Review Tribunal Panel member that contacted the National Post - I would like to just say that they rock!

"Another piece of legislation quietly nesting in the budget bill is the formation of a Social Security Tribunal. The bill is expansive on the make-up of the new tribunal but offers no explanation about the fate of the existing regime. In fact, there are currently four tribunals in which part-time government appointees hear appeals concerning OAS, CPP and EI eligibility. The Tories want to streamline that process by terminating the contracts of the 1,000 or so appointees and replacing them with 74 full-time appointed members. We know this only because appointees this week received letters telling them of the creation of a new “single-window” decision-making body and one of them contacted the National Post.

Future hearings will be done predominantly through written submissions and video-conferencing, rather than in-person hearings, to cut down on travel costs. This sounds fine in principle, unless you are the poor schmuck appealing to get early CPP on the basis of disability. How do you prove your case in writing or even on video? Furthermore, instead of three panel members, often comprising people with medical and legal experience, adjudication will now be made by one appointee.

Again, there may be merit to revamping social security tribunals. But the government has not made its case. It has simply used the “matryoshka principle” to nest legislation, layer within layer, in the hope that nobody notices the smallest dolls."

Here is the link for the newspaper article:

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/05/23/john-ivison-criticism-by-conservative-mp-shows-depth-of-unease-over-omnibus-budget-bill/

CPP Disability and Service Canada

by Allison Schmidt 14 June 2012 11:30

This just happened - no word of a lie.

A lady let's call her Connie - she is 64 years old and she is going through treatment for breast cancer.

She went to the local Service Canada office to get the forms for Canada Pension Plan disability.

She explained the situation to the gentleman Service Canada worker - this office is located in Saskatchewan - if any of the Feds are reading this blog.

The gentleman said "There is no point applying for CPP Disability benefits. Unless you are dying from breast cancer you won't get it"

I asked Connie to make a complaint.

I wonder how many other Service Canada employees are giving this same advice.

For the Feds reading - you need to stop these employees giving out this type of information.

WTH?????

No News on the Western Front

by Allison Schmidt 13 June 2012 13:17

Well I think the Omnibus Bill C 38 is being voted on today. And likely the amendments to the new appeals system will be approved.

I have not heard any further information to share but I keep hoping soon enough it will all become crystal clear as to how this new system is going to work. Did I say crystal clear???? Funny one.

Okay I know there are going to be extra sittings of the Pension Appeals Board in the hopes of clearing some of their back log - good for them - cause I do not know what is going to happen to those existing appeals when then new system comes in to play - see prior posts for details.

As for the Review Tribunal I believe they are now starting to schedule in to October so for those of you just starting the process of appealing who knows what system you will fall under.

I am trying to keep my glass half full approach. But stay tuned. Hopefully we will all hear something soon.

CPP Early Retirement, CPP Disability Benefits, and the Fifteen Month Rule

by Allison Schmidt 13 June 2012 12:59

Sigh........

This week I have had at least three phone calls from people who have been denied CPP disability benefits because they have been on CPP early retirement benefits longer than 15 months.

When I tell them I cannot help them, they become very frustrated with me - see there is not a lot of other financial support available to this age group - 60 to 65 - and if you have to live off your CPP early retirement and you do not have access to another income source or you cannot work due to disability then you are kind of hooped.

Think about it. If you have aches and pains and problems in your fifties, it is not likely these issues are going to lessen when you are in your sixties. I am really not sure why someone would take an early retirement benefit - perhaps they take it cause they are able to work some - but disability increases as you age.

Now the Feds do not advise people of the implications of taking these benefits - so when people want to switch over to CPP disability - and they are like 62, 63, 64, and collecting early retirement since 60 - they cannot. And the amount you get on CPP early retirement is lower than you would if you were on a CPP disability - which is why I wrote the blog about CPP and the Dangling Carrot.

I had to deal with a very unhappy gentleman this week - let's call him Jim. Now Jim is 63 years of age. He has been collecting CPP early retirement and received $830 dollars per month. He has been denied help from Social Services, Guaranteed Income Supplement, and CPP disability. He had been passed around from one department to the other and contacted me with his problem. I contacted him back and explained to him the "technicality" he had been hooked on - the 15 month rule - and he was not pleased to say the least - and at the end of the day accused me of being a pretend agency that pretends to help people and that I should be ashamed of myself. Nice. When I corresponded back that I thought his words were not cool - he did apologize and explained that he was frustrated - which I understand.

So I get to the office this morning and then I have had another two calls about the same type of denial.

I do not know what the solution is - I really think the Feds should disclose the implications to CPP disability some where - but then again why would they? Perfect demographic to have this rule apply to - seeing as the baby boomers are aging and disability increases with age - and I believe the baby boomers exist in significant numbers.

Just wanted to get the word out there again for your information.

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