Time permitting

Authority Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

Anette, a single parent, was designated as a Person with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) for the past two years. Under this program she received a higher rate of income assistance, and an earnings exemption of $500 a month. She contacted us after learning she was given only three weeks warning to renew her PPMB designation. She submitted a medical form as the ministry asked, but it had not been processed before the end of the month, and when she contacted us her income assistance had been reduced and earnings from her part-time job had been deducted from the reduced cheque. She was left without enough money for food or rent.

It appeared the ministry had correctly followed part of its policy in identifying Anette’s file for review, as all persons designated as PPMB are to be reviewed at least every two years. However, the policy also required the ministry provide three months notice of the PPMB review date, to allow time for recipients to complete a medical form and meet with an employment and assistance worker by phone or in person for a review. The review also involved updating an employability screening form, a checklist of job and training related activities, and an employment plan.

We investigated the fairness of the process used by the ministry to notify Anette about the PPMB review, including whether the relevant policies were followed. The ministry’s records confirmed it did not provide three months notice prior to discontinuing the PPMB designation. It appeared that a written notification three months ahead was overlooked, and when the omission later came to staff’s attention, written notice was not sent out due to a Canada Post labour disruption. Instead staff left a message with information about the review on Anette’s answering machine. Anette heard the message and picked up a medical form to begin the review process.

The ministry confirmed it had received Anette’s medical form and would contact her to complete the other review documents. The application would then be sent for review. The ministry said it would reinstate the PPMB rate and earnings exemption for three months to allow the review to be properly completed.

Category Income and Benefits
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2011
Location Vancouver Island / Sunshine Coast