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How long is too long?

Thursday, January 28, 2021

In urgent situations taking immediate steps to respond is critical.

Amira was a single parent receiving Persons with Disability Assistance. She and her son had recently moved to a small community and had planned to rent a home with assistance from her father. When her father wasn’t able to help with the first month’s rent as planned, Amira applied to the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (MSDPR) for a crisis shelter supplement. Her request was denied and as a result of not being able to pay rent, she was served with an eviction notice.

Amira contacted MSDPR and requested a review of the decision. She told the staff member that she was facing eviction within 24 hours. Despite the urgency of her situation, she was informed that a supervisor would get back to her in two to five business days.

Concerned that she and her son would be evicted and would become homeless, Amira contacted us for help.

We contacted a Community Relations and Service Quality Manager at MSDPR and confirmed that Amira had requested a review of the decision not to grant the crisis shelter supplement. We also raised a concern about the ministry’s delayed response given the urgent nature of Amira’s request. She was facing eviction within 24 hours but was told by a staff member that a supervisor would get back to her in two to five days.

The manager reviewed Amira’s file and arranged for a supervisor to follow up with her as soon as possible. The following morning, Amira called to let us know that a supervisor had contacted her and after reviewing her file, had overturned the decision not to grant her the crisis shelter supplement. Amira was eligible for the maximum $570 housing-related crisis supplement and $600 for her damage deposit.

While our investigation determined that the ministry did not follow a reasonable process in responding to Amira’s request given the urgent nature of her situation, the manager did take immediate steps to arrange for a supervisor to review and respond to her request for a shelter crisis supplement.

As the situation was resolved and MSDPR addressed the unfairness issue identified, we ended our investigation and closed the file.

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