Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction
Sheila contacted our Office with a complaint about the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. She told us that she made an application for income assistance and was asked by the ministry’s Prevention and Loss Management Services Branch to provide bank statements for a period of time in 2015. Sheila said that she was not able to provide the requested documents as her financial institution charged a fee for that service and she did not have money to pay it. She told us that she was at risk of losing her apartment if her application for income assistance was not processed soon.
We investigated whether the ministry was following a reasonable procedure for processing Sheila’s application for income assistance. The ministry told us that Sheila had previously been an income assistance recipient and her assistance had been discontinued because she had not provided the information that the ministry had asked for when it was conducting an eligibility assessment.
The ministry said that Sheila had informed them about the financial barrier to obtaining her financial records from her bank. They also noted that they had no way of accessing the records directly and they did not have Sheila’s consent to contact her bank. However, the ministry said that given Sheila’s current circumstances, they would talk to Sheila about approving her application on an interim basis on the understanding that the requested documents would be provided at a later date. She later confirmed that she spoke with the ministry’s investigative officer and as a result, her application had been approved and she received an income assistance cheque from the ministry. She said that as a result she was able to ensure her housing was secured and she would now be able to obtain the financial information from her bank.