Evidence of meeting #50 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was board.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Paul Thompson  Assistant Deputy Minister, Processing and Payment Services Branch, Service Canada
  • Éric Giguère  Director, Employment Insurance Appeal Division, Service Canada

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Candice Bergen

Thank you, Mr. Komarnicki.

Go ahead. You have two minutes.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Well, I frankly think the qualifications of the referees and ultimately of the umpires are relevant.

From my experience I know what the qualifications are for the referees, but how are the umpires appointed, and what are the qualifications? In your experience, are those appointments as politically directed or motivated as the appointments of the referees?

11:55 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Processing and Payment Services Branch, Service Canada

Paul Thompson

I'm not here to speak to the appointments process, and it wouldn't be within my purview to do that. I would just highlight, though, that the board of referees is a layperson panel, whereas the umpires are an arm's-length judicial tribunal of people who are former judges from the various levels of courts. So there are indeed differences between the competencies and background requirements for umpires and for referees.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

What would the background be for umpires?

11:55 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Processing and Payment Services Branch, Service Canada

Paul Thompson

They are former judges of the different levels of court--county, provincial, or federal.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Are they mainly retired judges?

11:55 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Processing and Payment Services Branch, Service Canada

Paul Thompson

Generally they are.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

So there is some room there for the appointment of judges who lean politically one way as opposed to another.

My concern is that the people we run through the system get a fair shake when they finally get to the referees and then the umpires. Are you confident that they will in fact get a fair shake, and that it won't be somewhat or even slightly politically motivated or tainted in order to give you better statistics? I'm thinking of the type of statistics you gave earlier to Mr. Savage.

11:55 a.m.

Director, Employment Insurance Appeal Division, Service Canada

Éric Giguère

Well, we have no reason to believe that they're not appointed properly. In part, it's because the office of the umpire is an arm's-length organization. The chief umpire is the one who, with the chief justice, appoints the umpires. We're not involved as part of that process, so I wouldn't be able to speak to any political affiliation or anything like that.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Candice Bergen

Thank you very much.

We'll now go to Mr. Vellacott, please.

March 22nd, 2011 / 11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Thank you very much.

My first question was touched on already. It came up in previous meetings. It's in respect of the issue of a client sometimes not having appropriate time for preparation--at least, that was the allegation made. My understanding is that a client can ask for adjournment if he only got it a couple days beforehand and was not adequately prepared as a result. That's my first question.

I have three questions in a row here, but could you respond to that? The implication was that people weren't able to be properly prepared, which isn't fair, obviously. Can you respond to that and speak to that issue first?

Noon

Assistant Deputy Minister, Processing and Payment Services Branch, Service Canada

Paul Thompson

We have fairly generous provisions that allow a hearing to be delayed if there are circumstances there. Éric, do you want to speak to any of the specific circumstances around which a hearing would be delayed?

Noon

Director, Employment Insurance Appeal Division, Service Canada

Éric Giguère

Well, Mr. Vellacott spoke to the adjournment aspect. A client can request it. Ultimately, it's at the chairperson's discretion, but usually the first request for an adjournment generally would be allowed.

Noon

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

How long a time would that be? Would it be adjourned for a week, 10 days? What's the length of time?

Noon

Director, Employment Insurance Appeal Division, Service Canada

Éric Giguère

It gets rescheduled within 45 days.