Social Security Tribunal mandate letter

Dear Mr. Aterman:

I am pleased that you have agreed to serve Canadians as the new Chairperson of the Social Security Tribunal. The experience you bring in having worked extensively in the administration of social justice in a range of settings, including federal tribunals, combined with your experience in the operations of adjudicative systems, will be strong assets in the renewal of the Social Security Tribunal.

The Government of Canada has made broad commitments to inclusive and sustainable growth, greater social inclusion, and an open and transparent government. As Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, I am accountable for delivering on these commitments along with specific priorities identified in my mandate letter from the Prime Minister. My overarching goal is to increase Canadians’ economic and social security. Providing leadership to the Social Security Tribunal in ensuring it renders timely and fair decisions will support this goal.

The Government has placed a strong emphasis on delivering results for Canadians. The Prime Minister and the President of the Treasury Board are developing new, more effective reporting processes that allow Canadians to more easily follow the Government’s progress toward delivering on priorities. I trust you will keep this need for transparent accountability uppermost in your mind as you deliver results for the Social Security Tribunal.

There is important work to be done within the Department of Employment and Social Development, and I know you will work in a collaborative way with the Deputy Minister who is my principal source of public service support and policy advice for the Department. The Deputy Minister is responsible for ensuring that the portfolio functions in a coordinated and coherent manner while respecting the separate accountability relationships and mandates of each portfolio partner. It is my expectation that the Social Security Tribunal, the Deputy Minister, and the Department will be in regular communication so that all parties have the information they need to support Canadians in a timely and responsible manner that is consistent with the overall direction and priorities of the Government.

As you are aware, I have stated on a number of occasions that the delays Canadians experience during the appeals process at the Social Security Tribunal are unacceptable. In 2017, I announced that the Social Security Tribunal would undergo a review to ensure it remains relevant in meeting the needs and expectations of Canadians. This review was in response to a series of reports that found the appeals process took far too long for Canadians to receive decisions, particularly for Employment Insurance benefit eligibility. This exercise provided an opportunity to review the recourse process, which includes reconsideration through to appeals at all levels, and to identify improvements to make outcomes more timely and transparent for Canadians.

In response to the findings and recommendations of the Social Security Tribunal Review, I have committed to providing Canadians with the client-centric appeals system they rightly expect. I have committed that we would make significant and meaningful changes to the Tribunal, and that Canadians will be placed at the heart of the appeal process. You will be responsible to bring client-centric transformations within the Social Security Tribunal, and to work in partnership with Employment and Social Development Canada as well as the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada within the Department of Justice, in the development and implementation of changes across the recourse process.

Open and Accountable Government sets out principles regarding the roles and responsibilities of Ministers in Canada’s system of responsible parliamentary government. It states that Ministers should not intervene with administrative or quasi-judicial tribunals on any matter that requires a decision in their quasi-judicial capacity. However, it also clarifies that while administrative tribunals possess adjudicative functions, they also operate as part of the executive branch of government. As the Social Security Tribunal is under my responsibility, I am accountable for its effective functioning, and I must answer questions in Parliament for all matters pertaining to it.

The intent of an administrative tribunal is to operate in a manner which is less formal, more expedient and more accessible than the courts. Achieving this goal will require a renewal of the Social Security Tribunal, and it is my expectation that you will lead this exercise within the Tribunal.

The consultations held with Canadians and stakeholders across the country during the Social Security Tribunal Review revealed unanimous concurrence that the goal of the appeals system should be to serve Canadians through an appeals process which is client- centric, faster and simpler, while respecting the Tribunal’s independence of decision-making and accountability for sound management. Canadians expect us to meet these goals, and it is my expectation that the Social Security Tribunal will continue to do its part in delivering real results and real change to Canadians.

Consistent with its mandate as an independent, quasi-judicial body that is responsible to Parliament through me in my role as Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, I ask you to deliver on the following priorities while continuing to respect the Tribunal’s arms‑ length relationship with the Department:

The Social Security Tribunal’s principal goal is to provide some of the country’s most vulnerable Canadians with an efficient, fair and transparent appeals process. As Chairperson of the Social Security Tribunal, I trust your pursuit of this goal to reflect our government’s commitment to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds.

I know that I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you. In turn, please know that you can count on my support in your role of Chairperson.

Yours sincerely,

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The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

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