Mr. Speaker, I asked the Minister of Employment and Social Development what the government was planning to do about the excessive delays in the Conservatives' new restructured appeal system for CPP hearings.
Since the restructuring system has completely collapsed under the overwhelming workload, it has been reported that caseworkers have no idea when their client cases might be heard. Some people have waited for over three years for the chance for a hearing. A social worker from my riding came to me with the news that she had only four new hearings booked in the year since the Conservatives' restructuring. This is completely unacceptable. Canadians deserve better. The restructuring of this system has caused the elderly and people with low incomes to suffer. People are not being helped, and an inevitable crisis is brewing.
The minister has argued that changes were made to the appeal system so that a retirement program would be there when Canada's seniors retire. This is the Conservatives' so-called support for seniors. However, it is very clear that the Conservatives are far more dedicated to ensuring that our seniors are unable to retire with security and dignity.
This restructured appeal process is another example of Conservatives creating an untenable situation for Canadians. The minister failed to give definite answers as to when more staff would be hired to the tribunal to deal with the massive workload and backlog. However, what is clear is that the restructured system is inadequate. More staff positions are desperately needed now to sufficiently manage the number of appeals that still need to be heard.
The minister also failed to give acceptable or even plausible answers when asked about the length of appeals notices. Many of the wait times for appellants are not measured in any way. It is clear that appellants and those suffering from this sorely inadequate process are not a first priority. In fact, when asked what the tribunal was doing to incorporate feedback from appellants and stakeholders, the minister merely focused on stakeholders. There was no mention of the feedback from appellants. Conservatives have made it clear that they are too busy looking out for their well-connected friends to put Canadians first.
This lack of acknowledgement of the needs of Canadians is absolutely disgraceful. When will the proper changes to the appeals process be made so that Canadians are not longer made to suffer by the government?