As of April 1, 2013, Bill C-38 (also known as the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act) modified the Employment Insurance (EI) appeals process. As opposed to the former appeals system, whereby appeals of EI Commission decisions were heard by boards of referees and then subsequently by umpires, appeals will now be heard by the Social Security Tribunal (SST), a new independent administrative tribunal at arm’s length from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).
The SST, composed of 74 members (39 of whom will be dedicated to EI appeals), will include two levels of appeals. In particular:
- A General Division (first level of appeal); and
- An Appeal Division (second level of appeal) to decide appeals of decisions made by the General Division. To qualify for an Appeal Division hearing, a claimant will have to obtain leave (permission) unless their appeal was dismissed summarily by the General Division.
EI appeals filed on April 1, 2013 or thereafter will proceed to the SST, whereas appeals filed prior to this date will continue to proceed under the former system for a one year transitional period. Following this transition period, the SST will be the only body responsible for hearing first and second level EI appeals.
Notably, the SST will also be responsible for appeals relating to Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) entitlements. Murielle Brazeau, Chairperson of the SST, states that the SST, “simplifies and streamlines the appeal processes by offering a single point of contact for submitting an appeal.” However, and with respect to EI appeals specifically, as the SST will eventually phase out the approximately 1000 part-time referees and 32 umpires under the former appeal system, it remains to be seen whether this simplification will come at the expense of expediency.
To learn more about the SST, click here.