Social Services Appeal Board

Policies and Procedures of the Appeal Process

  1. Filing an Appeal
  2. Determining the Basis of an Appeal
  3. Extension of Time Limits for an Appeal
  4. Requiring the Attendance of Witnesses
  5. Role of the Designated Officer  
  6. Admissible Evidence  
  7. The Hearing Process   
  8. The Order and Reasons for Decision 
  9. Security  
  10. Hearings Outside of Winnipeg
  11. Costs to attend a Hearing 
  12. Adjournments 
  13. Filing More Than One Appeal 
  14. Rescheduling and Postponements
  15. Review and Reconsideration 
  16. Stay Orders    
  17. Court of Appeal
  18. Policy for Removing Personal Identifiers from Decisions Posted Online

1. Filing an Appeal

To file an appeal, the appellant can fill out a Notice of Appeal form or write a letter to the Appeal Board. Notice of Appeal forms are available at the Social Services Appeal Board office and at other department offices where appeals are made. If an appellant wishes to appeal a decision but needs help filling out the Notice of Appeal form, the appellant should call the Appeal Board office for help.

An appeal may be mailed, faxed, or dropped off in person to the Appeal Board office, at the following address:

Social Services Appeal Board
7th Floor - 175 Hargrave Street
Winnipeg, MB R3C 3R8
Phone: 204-945-3003 or 204-945-3005 in Winnipeg
TTY: 204-948-2037
Toll free: 1-800-282-8069 in Manitoba
Fax: 204-945-1736

Appeals must include:

  • the appellant’s name and address
  • the name of the program being appealed
  • the decision made by the department that is being appealed
  • the appellant’s signature
  • a release form when a third party will be acting on the appellant's behalf

It also helps to include:

  • the appellant’s phone number or a number where messages can be left
  • the office the appeal is being filed against
  • a short description of the reason for the appeal
  • a copy of any decision letters sent by the department
  • names and phone numbers of any lawyers or others who will be involved with the appeal

A copy of the Notice of Appeal will be sent to the office that originally made the decision.

The hearing will be scheduled as soon as possible and no later than 30 days from when the appeal notice was received.  In Winnipeg, the hearing will usually take place in the Appeal Board's office. If an appellant lives outside of Winnipeg, every effort is made to have the board come to the appellant's community to hold the hearing. If this is not possible, the hearing will be held via teleconference or video conference.

During the hearing, the appellant and a representative from the department must be present. If they are not both present, they must be able to communicate with each other and the Appeal Board simultaneously (ex: through video or teleconference).

Both parties will receive a Notice of Hearing letter at least six days before the hearing date. This notice states the date, time and location of the hearing. 

It is very important to call the Appeal Board office two days before the hearing date to confirm attendance. The hearing will be cancelled if confirmation is not received.

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2. Determining the Basis of an Appeal

An appeal may be returned to the appellant if it does not clearly identify the issues under appeal, or if pertinent information is missing.

When it is unclear if an appeal is within the board’s jurisdiction, it will be placed before a panel of the board to decide if the appeal falls within the board’s jurisdiction. Appellants will be informed in writing if their appeal is outside the jurisdiction of the board and the reasons why.

The respondent may disagree with the board’s ruling on jurisdiction when the Notice of Appeal is received. If that happens, the department may send a written request to have the board review their decision.

3. Extension of Time Limits for an Appeal

Anyone wanting to appeal a department decision must file their appeal within 30 days after the date the decision was made. However, the Appeal Board has the power to extend the time limit for filing an appeal.

Procedure for granting an extension

A request for an extension must be submitted, in writing, to the board and include an explanation of why the appellant could not file within the legislated time period.

If the department objects to the board granting an extension of time, they must send this objection in writing. They should also give evidence that they correctly told the appellant about their decision in writing and said they had the right to appeal.

Both parties will be given an opportunity to review, and respond to, the written submission of the other party.

The board will review the written submissions from both parties and determine whether or not to grant the extension. Only in exceptional circumstances would the board ask the parties to appear before them to answer questions before making their ruling on whether or not to grant an extension.

Granting the extension

If the department does not object to an appeal that is filed more than 30 days, but less than six months, after a decision, the appeal will be scheduled without review by the board.

The board will automatically review all appeals that are more than six months past the decision date, whether or not the department has objected.

Under no circumstances will the board consider hearing appeals about decisions made before February 18, 2002. This is the date when the jurisdiction to grant extension of time frame was put in place.

If the designated officer objects to the extension, the Appeal Board will consider the following factors in deciding whether to grant an extension:

  1. the reason (s) for the extension – for example, if the appellant:
    • did not know they had the right to appeal the department’s decision
    • did not know that there was a time limit for filing an appeal
    • was unable to appeal for reasons beyond their control (ex: coping with an illness or crisis)
    • discovered new facts about the case that were not available until after the time limit for filing an appeal had passed
  2. whether granting the extension would unfairly give one party an advantage over the other

Although this manual sets out general issues, every application for an extension of time will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

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4.  Requiring the Attendance of Witnesses

The department, the appellant or the board may ask witnesses to attend the hearing. Information from witnesses may be needed to help the Appeal Board get all information needed to make a fair decision.

The board prefers that witnesses attend voluntarily. However, if a witness has relevant information and does not want to appear, either party can send a written request to the board to have a summons prepared that requires the witness to attend.

A summons is a legal document served to the witness. It includes the hearing time and location and the information that the witness must bring. The Appeal Board can ask why a summons is needed. The board may refuse to issue a summons if they determine that witness’s attendance is not needed.

Requests for a summons must include the person’s full name, address and a description of why that person’s testimony is important to the appeal. If the witness is required to bring certain documents, the request must indicate to the board the type of documents they need the witness to bring. If the board grants the request, a summons will be issued.

The person requesting the summons is responsible for serving it (making sure the summons is put in the witness’s hands). The staff of the Social Services Appeal Board can help with this, if necessary.

The respondent must advise the Appeal Board if any witnesses will be attending the hearing voluntarily. This is to ensure that enough time is scheduled for the hearing. It is also in keeping with the natural justice principle that the appellant should know the case against them before the hearing.

5. Role of the Designated Officer

When an appeal is filed, a Notice of Appeal is sent to the office that made the decision. This tells them about the appeal and gives them time to contact the appellant to resolve the issue(s). The respondent should call the Appeal Board with any concerns about the basis of appeal, time frame of the appeal, or any scheduling restrictions.

The respondent must send an appeal report to the board, within seven days after receiving the hearing notice, to ensure that it can be mailed to the appellant before hearing. In exceptional circumstances the respondent may send a written request to the Director of the Appeal Board to extend the report due date.

The report should include all documents relevant to the decision. The board has the power to exclude evidence. Documents received less than seven days before the hearing may not be allowed into evidence.

Content Guidelines for Income Assistance, General Assistance or Shelter Assistance Reports

For a hearing to be fair and efficient, it is important to have all department information presented in advance. The following is a guideline for information needed for a hearing:

  • name of appellant
  • category of assistance
  • list of family members living with appellant (SAMIN printout is acceptable)
  • date of most recent enrollment
  • budget breakdown, both current and as of decision date if different (SAMIN printout is acceptable)
  • most recent application and/or the application relevant to the appeal issues, as required by law
      • date of last assistance and closing date, if applicable
  • objective, chronological and dated sequence of events leading up to the decision  being appealed
  • date of decision
  • printed name and signatures of case co-ordinator and direct supervisor
  • all supporting documents the department used to make the decision

Example:

    • if the basis of the appeal is income assistance closed/denied due to non-co-operation – attendance reports from training programs or inadequate job search forms
    • if the basis of the appeal is income assistance closed/denied due to financial resources – applicable documents (ex: copies of pay stubs and/or EI benefits received)
    • if the basis of the appeal is income assistance cancelled due to a common law allegation – bank statements verifying joint bank accounts, copies of leases, signed affidavits
    • if the basis of the appeal is income assistance insufficient due to the assessment of an overpayment – clear calculations and dates showing how the overpayment was calculated
    • if the basis of the appeal is income assistance insufficient due to medical eligibility denied – current medical assessments and corresponding medical panel summaries (transcribed if writing is not readable) and any previous assessments and summaries; explanation of why the medical panel did not grant eligibility would be beneficial.)
  • legal basis for the department's decision, including relevant regulations and policies
  • applicable decision letters sent to the appellant 

Note: For programs other than EIA, contact the SSAB Director for help with report content.

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6. Admissible Evidence

Under The Social Services Appeal Board Act, the rules of evidence do not apply to the judicial procedures at the Appeal Board hearings. While the chairperson of each hearing has the final authority to rule on admissible evidence, the board has guidelines to help appellants and respondents know what information will be accepted at the hearing. The guidelines do not include every example. Remember:

  • Information needs to be relevant to the issue under appeal.
  • Information must have been received by, the department before the decision was made, unless it is a written confirmation of spoken information.
  • Spoken (verbal) evidence and hearsay (information you have heard but were not told directly) are admissible.  Proper consideration will be given to this evidence in decision making.
  • Previous decision letters of the board, unless they apply to the same appellant, are not admissible as evidence.
  • The respondent must send all evidence at least seven days before the hearing.
  • The board may ask for more information before or during a hearing.
  • Once the hearing is closed, no more information can be considered by the board.

Under The Social Services Appeal Board Act, there is no need for the appellant to give any documents to the Appeal Board or respondent before the hearing, but they may do so, if they choose.  The respondent may request an adjournment to review any documents they have not seen before the hearing.

7.  The Hearing Process

The appeal hearing is an informal meeting, so that the appellant and the respondent will feel comfortable.

Three members of the Appeal Board sit as a panel to hear an appeal. One of the members will be in charge of the hearing. A staff person of the Appeal Board will attend the hearing and take notes. The notes are for internal use only.

No recording of the hearing is allowed.

The appellant may bring a lawyer, advocate or another person to speak on their behalf or to give evidence. The department will send a representative who can best explain the reasons for the department’s decision. A hearing is usually open to the public, but it may be closed at the request of the appellant.

The chairperson begins the hearing by asking everyone in the room to introduce themselves. The chairperson then explains what is expected of everyone present.

The appellant and the department’s representative each give a brief presentation that explains their point of view. The appellant can speak first or ask the respondent to speak first. The appellant will give information about why they disagree with the department’s decision. The department’s representative will provide reasons why the decision was made.

After the presentations are finished, the board members will ask questions. The chairperson will ask both parties if they have any questions for the other party.

Hearings usually take about an hour to complete but more time may be scheduled if necessary. The hearing will not end until both parties have presented all of their information and have been able to ask questions.

After the hearing is over, the panel will meet in private to decide whether to confirm, vary, or rescind the decision of the designated officer. This decision will be based on the written and verbal information presented at the hearing, according to law.

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8.  The Order and Reasons for Decision

All decisions of the Social Services Appeal Board are sent in writing to both parties within 15 days of the hearing. Every effort is made to provide written decisions as soon as possible. The staff of the Appeal Board cannot tell either party of the board's decision.

The board’s decision has two parts, the order and the written reasons for that decision.

The order lists:

  • the name of the appellant
  • the name of the respondent (may always the same person who appeared at the hearing, but will be the name of the designated officer who has legal responsibility for the decision)
  • the basis for the appeal
  • the Appeal Board decision*
  • any action the Board is requiring the department to take

The reasons for decision will include:

  • a summary of the basic facts and evidence presented at the hearing
  • reference to the law that was relevant in the board’s decision
  • the board’s analysis of the information and law
  • the reason for their decision

*The Appeal Board can confirm, rescind, or vary the Department’s decision, or refer the matter back to the Department.

9.  Security

The Social Services Appeal Board must ensure the safety of persons who attend  hearings. Steps can be taken to address any safety concerns by discussing these concerns with the Director of the Social Services Appeal Board. In some cases, the board may need security officers at the hearing if there is a reasonable safety risk from one or more persons attending the hearing.  Requests for security to be present at the hearing must be made in writing to the Director of the Social Services Appeal Board.

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10.  Hearings Outside of Winnipeg

The Social Services Appeal Board will try to hold hearings in the community where the appellant lives. The three board members and a staff person will travel to the hearing location.

When the appellant lives more than 500 kilometres from Winnipeg, the board will hold the hearing by video conference (where facilities exist) or by teleconference.

The Director of the Social Services Appeal Board decides where and how to hold the hearing.

11.  Costs to Attend a Hearing

The Social Services Appeal Board cannot help pay for the costs associated with attending a hearing. An appellant who is enrolled in the Employment and Income Assistance Program should contact their case co-ordinator for help with transportation and/or child care costs.

12.  Adjournments

The Social Services Appeal Board has the power to adjourn a hearing when necessary.

The appellant, the respondent, or the Board itself may request an adjournment. Most often, adjournments occur because of lack of time to complete a hearing, one of the parties needs to seek additional documentation, or there is a request from one of the parties or the Board for a witness to appear.

If the Department requests that a hearing be adjourned until a later date, the Board may grant the adjournment with conditions. If adjourning the hearing would cause financial hardship for the appellant, the oard may grant the adjournment but ask the department to provide financial help until the hearing starts again. If the department does not agree to help, then the board may refuse to adjourn the hearing.

When a hearing is adjourned, the same panel would preside over the hearing when it is reconvened. If this is not possible, then the hearing would be re-started with a new panel.

13.  Filing More than One Appeal

When an appellant files more than one appeal, the board may decide to combine the appeals into one hearing.  The Appeal Board decides if multiple appeals will be scheduled together or on separate dates. The wishes of the appellant and the respondent, the legislated time frames and panel availability will all be considered when deciding to combine multiple appeals.

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14. Rescheduling and Postponements

Hearings must be scheduled within 30 days of receiving an appeal, unless the appellant asks for a postponement.  There is no time limit on how long an appeal can be postponed, but the staff of the Appeal Board will contact the appellant about once a month about the status of the appeal.

When a file has been on hold (pending) for more than a year, the appellant must provide a written reason for the delay. If the board is not satisfied with the explanation, a hearing may be scheduled or may be considered withdrawn.

Appellants are asked to contact the office, as soon as possible, if they are unable to make the hearing date. Appellants must confirm two days before their hearing date or their hearing will be cancelled. If the appellant does not confirm, but shows up for the hearing, the hearing will be rescheduled.

The Notice of Hearings advises applicants that requests for postponement will not be granted the same day as the hearing. In some cases (ex: illness, family emergency), the SSAB Director may allow a postponement on the same day as the hearing.

The respondent is expected to have a designate at the hearing on the scheduled date.

The Appeal Board staff usually does not contact the department before scheduling a hearing. Once the hearing date is scheduled, the respondent cannot request a postponement. When the respondent receives a Notice of Appeal, they should tell the Appeal Board office staff if there are any days among the next 30 days that they are unable to attend. If there are special circumstances, the respondent may call the Director of the Social Services Appeal Board and ask for a new hearing date.  When the request is made the same day as the Notice of Hearing was faxed, the director may grant the request.

Both parties are expected to arrive at the hearing on time.  Appellants should come a little earlier to receive the department report, if they have not received it in advance.

The board will wait no more than 15 minutes after the scheduled hearing start time.  If one of the parties has not arrived by that time, the hearing will be cancelled.  If the late party contacts the Appeal Board office the same, or the next, day with a good reason for missing the hearing, the director has can decide to reschedule the hearing.

When an appellant does not show up for a hearing and does not contact the office by the end of that day, they will be sent a letter telling them that their appeal is considered withdrawn.

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15. Review and Reconsideration

After an appeal hearing has ended, and the Appeal Board has considered the evidence, each party is given a written copy of the decision within 15 days. This decision is final unless the appellant, the respondent or the board asks for a Reconsideration of the decision.

According to The Social Services Appeal Board Act, either party to the appeal may request a Reconsideration of the Appeal Board’s decision.

A Reconsideration Request asks the board to take a second look and to consider the following issues:

  • if the original, three-person process or decision was, or was perceived to be biased
  • if the panel process inhibited the presentation or consideration of relevant evidence
  • if the decision was inconsistent with the legislation
  • if an obvious administrative error in calculation or relevant dates has occurred in the Board’s Order.

The written submission should clearly explain how one of the above issues is relevant to the request for Reconsideration.

A Reconsideration Request must be filed in writing within 30 days of the decision of the Appeal Board. It must include the reasons why the person filing the request believes that the board erred in making the original decision.

The request can be written as a letter and sent to the Appeal Board office. The board will send a copy of the Reconsideration Request from the appellant or respondent to the other party for a response. Both parties should be clear and detailed when writing their responses.

The board makes a decision on a Reconsideration Request, based on the written submissions and any other documents submitted. The board will decide within 15 days whether it will grant the Reconsideration Request.

Reconsideration Requests will be reviewed by the next available panel of the board, which may include one or more of the panel members who made the original decision. If the party requesting Reconsideration would prefer not to have any original panel members, they must state this in the letter of request and give the reasons. If the Reconsideration Request is granted, the panel may make a change to the original Order of the Board or order a new hearing. If the Reconsideration Request is denied, the board will tell both parties of their reasons in writing.

If the department has applied for Reconsideration, and the appellant does not respond or attend a hearing once a hearing has been granted, the board will base its decision on the department’s submission alone. If the department does not attend a hearing that was requested by the appellant, the board will make its decision based on the appellant’s submission alone.

When a new hearing is granted based on (a) or (b), it will be a brand new hearing and all information and evidence will need to be presented again by both parties. When a new hearing is granted based on (c) or (d), then the information presented at the first hearing, the board’s original decision, and the request for Reconsideration and any other documentation received by the board will serve as part of the report for the hearing.

Only one request for Reconsideration from each party will be considered by the board.

If a Reconsideration Request results in a new decision, it replaces the board’s previous decision and must be honoured by both parties. If the other party disagrees with the new decision, they can apply for Reconsideration within 30 days, or they can go to the Court of Appeal. Each time the board issues a decision, there is a new 30-day time frame for filing a Reconsideration Request.

16.  Stay of Orders

The Social Services Appeal Board Act indicates that the designated officer must follow the Order of the Appeal Board, but does not give a time frame in which the Order must be carried out. The department is expected to act on the Order of the Appeal Board immediately after receiving it.

There may be times when the department disagrees with the decision of the board and requests a Reconsideration of that decision.  In cases where the board’s Order involves paying an appellant a lump sum of money, the department may ask for a stay of the Order until a request for Reconsideration has been reviewed. This will ensure that the appellant is not overpaid should the board’s original decision be overturned.

The department may ask for a stay of the Order as part of a Reconsideration Request. The appellant will have a chance to respond to this request. If the Reconsideration Request is not granted, then a suspension of the Order will also not be granted. If the Reconsideration is granted, the board will provide a written response as to whether or not they have also granted the suspension of the Order.

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17.  Court of Appeal

If the appellant or the department disagrees with the decision of the Appeal Board, they may apply to the Court of Appeal.

The board must inform both parties of their right to appeal a question of law or jurisdiction to the Court of Appeal. After receiving the Appeal Board's decision, either party has 30 days to file for leave to appeal at the Court of Appeal. Leave to appeal means that a judge of the Court of Appeal has determined that there is a valid reason to appeal a decision to the Court of Appeal. If the appellant wants to file an appeal with the Court of Appeal, they can get advice from a lawyer or from Legal Aid Manitoba.

An appellant may apply for a Reconsideration and be heard at the Court of Appeal at the same time. In these cases, the Court of Appeal usually waits until all other options have been tried before deciding if it will hear an appeal. If the Appeal Board hears the Reconsideration and the appellant still disagrees with the board's decision, the Court of Appeal will decide if it will hear the appeal. Permission to present a case to the court may be granted only when the jurisdiction of the Appeal Board or a point of law is in question.

18. Policy for Removing Personal Identifiers from Decisions Posted Online

As of August 1, 2015, the Social Services Appeal Board has been posting many of their Reasons for Decisions online. The appeal board hopes this will accomplish the goal of openness, and transparency, and be helpful for persons in understanding the work of the board and how they have decided previous cases. 

In order to comply with the privacy requirements under Manitoba’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) personally identifying information that is not essential to the decision or decision making process will be removed from these decision letters. The Board will endeavor to limit the amount of information released to the minimum necessary for this purpose.

The Director of The Social Services Appeal Board will make the determination regarding which decisions will be posted online.

Complaints about the posting of personal information should be brought to the attention of the SSAB Director, or the FIPPA coordinator. 

The Board is not sending out individual notification that a particular decision will be posted online. The following statement is on the SSAB website, in the SSAB waiting room, and on all Notice of Appeal Forms.

The Department of Families is authorized to collect personal information and personal health information under section 36(1)(b) of The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”) and section 13(1) of The Personal Health Information Act (“PHIA”) respectively, as the information is directly related to and necessary for the purposes of carrying out the duties of the Social Services Appeal Board (The Board). The Board has limited the information we are collecting about you to the minimum amount necessary for this purpose. The information you provide cannot be used or disclosed for any other purpose, unless you consent or we are authorized or required to do so by FIPPA and PHIA. To promote the transparency and accountability of The Board, a de-identified, anonymized version of its decision may be published on the Department of Families website. The Board takes every reasonable step to ensure that no identifying or potentially identifying information is included in the decisions posted on-line. If you have any questions about the information being collected under FIPPA and PHIA, please contact the FIPPA Coordinator at 204-945-2013 at 500-326 Broadway, Winnipeg MB R3C 0S5.

The following redacting guidelines have been developed for the posting of on-line decisions.

Personal Identifier  Redacted identifier
Appellant’s name use “the appellant”
Names use sibling, parent, friend  or relative etc
Gender/Sexual Orientation redact references to gender or sexual orientation; using gender neutral language
Witness Name use “the witness”
Age/Birthdates age listed only when relevant to issue
Redact birthdates
Marital/Family Status Redact unless relevant to issue under appeal
Address/community use generic terms “the residence” “the town”
Employer/School  use generic terms such as “boss”, educational institution”
Health Care Providers  doctor,  hospital
Children do not indicate gender, or number of children
Health information avoid use of specific health information unless critical to the issue under appeal 
Nationality  Redact
Ethnicity/Religion Redact
Criminal History Redact unless critical to issue under appeal
Personally identifying numbers such as: 
SINs, DL, PHIN etc Do not put in original letters, but always remove
Banking info    Redact references to specific banking institutions, or any personal banking information
Specific Dates of events Redact or use time periods unless critical to issue under appeal
Financial Information Redact specific financial amounts related to personal income, generic rates are acceptable
Asset Information Specific information relating to items such as vehicle ownership, property, investments, trusts, etc

Notes:

  • use the addition of numbers after generic indicators when multiple instances exist. i.e. The appellant drove from hospital 1 to hospital 2 to seek medical attention.
  • when a unique combination of factors are identifying in and of themselves, <text deleted> may be used to redact this portion of the decision from an online posting, or the letter may be removed in its entirety.

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