April 11, 2022

Summary of Responses to the Survey Regarding the Social Benefits Tribunal

About this Survey

Tribunal Watch Ontario is a public interest organization with a mission to monitor Ontario’s adjudicative tribunal system, advocate for adjudicative independence, and promote access to justice. We monitor new adjudicative appointments to ensure that candidates are selected following a competitive process, and advocate for appointment and reappointment processes that are inclusive, transparent, merit-based, and free from political influence. We also advocate for dispute resolution processes that are fair, expert, timely and accessible.

In 2021, Tribunal Watch Ontario circulated a brief survey to users of Ontario’s tribunals. In soliciting responses, Tribunal Watch wrote: “[We are] interested in your experience with Ontario’s adjudicative tribunals. The following survey was designed for persons – lawyers and others – advocating on behalf of clients in disputes requiring resolution by an Ontario adjudicative tribunal during the period from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2021. We have chosen this time period because it will allow us to compare the survey results with the data reported by the tribunal in its annual reports for the two fiscal years. The results of the survey will be made available to all interested parties.”

Conclusion

The survey results paint a grim picture for low-income Ontarians who have acquired a disability within the last three years and need income support. The delays in getting a hearing are unconscionable, particularly when historically more than half those appellants were successful in proving their eligibility. There are thousands of people trying to survive on $733/month for up to 18 months longer than they would have in the past. Many of them are ill with treatable conditions that will likely be worsened by their livings conditions while they wait. And when they finally do get to their hearing, the consequences of the Digital- First policy often create barriers to justice that block their access to critical benefits.

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