When the data doesn't match

Authority Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

Jennie was upset when she called. She had no money and she was concerned about the impact on her children. Jennie said she was on income assistance and started receiving cheques from Canada Pension Plan (CPP) in June. She expected the June CPP amount would be deducted from her August income assistance cheque because there was a two month lag. However, Jennie called us when the Ministry of Social Development refused to issue her a July income assistance cheque.

Jennie said the ministry told her its computer showed she had received a CPP payment in May, which the ministry deducted from her July income assistance cheque. Jennie denied receiving a May CPP cheque and thought it unfair that the ministry was making her declare income she did not receive.

We investigated whether the ministry followed an unreasonable procedure when it deducted a CPP payment from her income assistance if she did not receive a CPP payment in May. The ministry told us it has a computer data match with CPP. We understood this meant that the CPP computer “talks” to the ministry computer directly so that the ministry knows what CPP payments are made to clients. In Jennie’s case, the ministry said there were several CPP payments on its system and it was relying on the data match information.

We spoke to Jennie about what information she may be able to provide to the ministry. Jennie said she had sent her bank statements to the ministry that showed she did not get a May CPP payment. After reviewing her bank statement and the printout of transactions received from the ministry, we discussed Jennie’s July income assistance entitlement with a manager at the ministry.

The manager confirmed the data match with CPP showed Jennie had received a CPP payment in May, the amount of which was deducted from her July income assistance cheque. The ministry then reviewed her bank account information that showed no May CPP payment. With Jennie’s permission, a ministry worker contacted CPP directly and found out that there was a data match error. CPP confirmed to the ministry that Jennie did not receive a CPP payment in May. The ministry then made a decision that she should receive July income assistance and issued a cheque right away.

Category Income and Benefits
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2011
Location The Lower Mainland