Dear Madam Chair.
I was recently privy to a teleconference with the Vice Chair as well as Mr. M. ___________. I had asked when I could expect that appeals would begin to be heard given the excessive delays that my clients are experiencing. Mr. M. _________ told me I should write a letter - so that is what I am doing.
I have a large number of files waiting to be heard at the Social Security Tribunal. I understand there is a 7000 appeal backlog at changeover - along with an additional 2500 appeals added this last year - and that only 800 appeals were heard. This leads me to believe there is around a 9000 appeal backlog waiting to be heard - and my last review of the GIC appointments to the SST indicates only 26 members hearing these appeals.
I am getting phone calls every day - emails every day - desperate people calling me asking me when they can expect their hearings.
These people are using their retirement savings, some are dying, many are declaring bankruptcy, people are going without treatment and medication, children are suffering, and good working people are being forced to swallow their pride and apply for welfare.
I do not know what to tell these clients - I do not get any answers from the SST - and when I ask what the strategy is for hearing these backlogs - I am told that they are trying to get the backlog managed - and that I should write a letter.
Madam Chair all I want to know is - is there a strategy in place for hearing these appeals? I want to know what kind of time line I can tell the clients?
I feel that this Tribunal is not following their mandate that you wrote in your introductory message. It is not fair. It is not efficient. It is not accessible.
I noted in your last email to me you mentioned reaching out to stakeholders. I have not received any contact - in fact my last email to you was answered by ____________. You may see my emails as an annoyance but I am dealing with folk who are desperate for answers. How can this tribunal put this kind of responsibility to manage this desperation on to advocates like myself? It must be very nice to be so insular and not have to deal with the realities these clients are facing as this is what I hear from them every day.
I am sorry if you find my tone harsh as it is not my intention to offend but to point out the realities of the situation I am dealing with every day.
Thank you for your time.