No callback, no fair

Authority Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

Sam, who was unable to work due to his disability, relied on income assistance under the Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers to Employment (PPMB) category. His PPMB status came up for review and the ministry required a new medical note from his doctor. However, the form was submitted to the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction with certain pieces of information missing. Sam received a letter informing him that, based on the information provided by his doctor, he was no longer eligible for PPMB. Upset with the situation, Sam called the ministry’s toll-free line several times to enquire about the decision and to request reconsideration, but did not receive the information he needed on the call nor receive a call back. Sam immediately asked his doctor to submit the required information to the ministry, but the ministry did not receive it before the deadline. Sam received notice that his PPMB benefits were being terminated the following month. Desperate for help, Sam turned to the Office of the Ombudsperson.

Through our investigation, we learned that Sam had spoken with a ministry employee, but the request for their supervisor to call Sam back was not forwarded. As Sam’s request for reconsideration was not received before the deadline due to the breakdown in communication, we asked the ministry to consider extending the deadline for reconsideration and allow him to submit the information needed to request that his PPMB benefits continue. If the ministry did not extend the deadline and reconsider Sam’s situation, his monthly income assistance cheques would decrease and Sam would not be in a position to cover his monthly expenses. The ministry agreed, and wrote to Sam, apologizing for not responding to his request for a return phone call, and extending the deadline for reconsideration of the PPMB decision. The ministry also agreed to expedite the processing of the reconsideration request once it was received. Sam submitted the necessary medical information to the ministry to have his benefits reinstated, and he was provided access to the reconsideration process to which he was rightfully entitled.

Category Income and Benefits
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2017