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Man asking court for $3,500 in social assistance

A Whitehorse man is appealing to the Yukon Supreme Court to order the payment of $3,500 in social assistance.

By Gord Fortin on June 24, 2019

A Whitehorse man is appealing to the Yukon Supreme Court to order the payment of $3,500 in social assistance.

Paul James Major was in earlier this month to argue his case, with deputy Justice Gregory Mulligan presiding.

Major represented himself.

Mulligan offered for the other side to present a case first to help Major navigate the proceeding as a self-representer. Major agreed.

Karen Wenckebach, the lawyer representing the Yukon government, made her submissions. She said Major has raised several concerns with his appeal, but only one should be argued.

This is the household allowance, covering 2010 to 2016. Wenckebach called that the only issue the court has the authority to decide.

She argued that any of the other issues cannot be raised, as there is no authority,

This includes a ruling on a decision of housing and outreach services staff to deny him help.

He was denied services from a social worker, court heard. He was also denied discretionary aid.

Wenckebach argued that there was nothing wrong with this choice.

She said judicial reviews are the subject of the tribunal hearing them; no other body has the jurisdiction to do so.

Housing and alleged wrongdoing are outside the scope of the review as well, she argued.

As for the denial of discretionary aid, Wenckebach said the Social Assistance Review Committee (SARC) could have the authority to decide this. That said, it decided not to touch the review.

She said the question the court needs to determine is if this was the proper choice.

She said that for the SARC to review, the plaintiff would have to disclose the issue and when it happened. This must be provided in writing, and there are no exceptions.

“This is a requirement,” Wenckebach said. “It is mandatory.”

She said Major gave no notice that he wanted a review.

On Oct. 31, 2018, there was a court review of the request. There was a determination that there would be a re-hearing of the household equipment allowance.

Wenckebach made clear in court that this was about the household equipment allowance.

This is annual $500 benefit. She said Major was informed of what information he should bring.

She argued that since he provided no notice, SARC was right to not have ruled on the review.

She said her client has offered Major $1,270 to cover the six-year period. She explained that Major was living in a furnished apartment, which meant the landlord provided a lot of the furniture.

Major had replaced some of the furnishings.

The review took this into account and felt the offer was reasonable.

Major argued that he was denied process for the housing allowance from 2010 to 2016. He said he addressed this argument adequately.

He argued that Wenckebach was quoting old and confusing policy. He added there was a lack of disclosure.

He is asking for $3,500. He believes the lack of procedural fairness should justify this demand.

Major argued that social assistance is responsible for this. He expressed confusion about how it does not understand the programs it has authority over.

Major said Wenckebach was wrong on notification. He said he emailed notice of his intent to seek relief.

He said in November 2018, there was a decision to review the board’s decision.

He said he asked for the disclosure of policy, but was not allowed to give any input. He said this is wrong because he is fully eligible for services.

“There has been no transparency,” Major said.

He said nothing was disclosed about how he could get relief prior to the SARC hearing.

He explained that the $1,270 was a compromise, and he wants the amount he feels he is owed.

Mulligan asked if this included $800 to purchase a new bed. Major said he is unsure if it does. He added that evidence was ignored, and he doubts it would come to fruition since he bought a new bed.

Wenckebach maintained that Major did not provide the evidence he was required to. She said he made purchases with other income he had.

She clarified that the $1,270 was for bathroom and bedroom linens and kitchen ware.

As for the bed, she pointed out that Major said he has back trouble.

She added that he gave away his previous bed due to it being too soft. She agreed that he needs a bed and thus the funds were available.

She explained that it is problematic that he went out and bought a new bed. She said there could have been assistance if he had disclosed the need.

Major clarified that the amount of furnishings in his residence has decreased. He said he has replaced everything, meaning he would not be leaving anything behind for the landlord.

He said the $1,270 does not cover all the expenses and ignores evidence. If he’d been allowed to participate in the process, he said, he would have received the $3,500.

As for the bed, it’s an inflatable one used in mining camps, so it’s not suitable for him.

Mulligan asked if he could use the $800. Major said he could.

Mulligan reserved his decision, and plans to issue a written decision.

Comments (12)

Up 11 Down 17

Michael Storm on Jun 27, 2019 at 1:39 pm

Not sure there is enough info for people to pass judgement on this man. Being on SA cannot be fun so try and approach the situation in a generous way.

Up 11 Down 12

Not Everyone Abuses the System on Jun 27, 2019 at 8:09 am

Some people really need SA. Not everyone abuses the system.
I have a sister with mental illness. She gets entry-level jobs often but cannot seem to keep them - likely due to her ways of interacting with people as a result of her mental illness. She tries really hard to support herself and every time she loses a job, it is a huge blow to her self-esteem, her bank account, her life! It is a horrible way to live. Although her family helps her as much as they are able, she relies on SA to get through those low periods. I am very thankful for Canada's safety net and while I do not appreciate those that do take advantage of the system, some truly do need it despite what it might look like to a bystander.

We don't know this guy's whole story; what we do know is a reporter's take on the situation which includes the narrative set by YG in court. That, right there, requires the reader keep their mind open about the truth of the matter. I support anyone seeking to exercise their lawful rights - although I do think it's almost always a losing battle with YG. They have FULL use of our tax dollars to fight us while we have to rely on our own pockets.

And if your pockets rely on SA to get filled, you have my sympathy and empathy. @ Mr M: not all people are as lucky as you to be able to hold down two jobs.

Up 32 Down 6

Mr M on Jun 26, 2019 at 11:29 am

I am sure proud I actually work two jobs and support myself and do not have to ask for a hand out. To many people crying and whining about how the Government doesn't help them because they are too lazy to go out and get a job (lots of jobs out there) I have had two jobs for years. Also the people on EI they know the system as well, work for six months and get EI for the rest. I see them with their tailored made cigarettes and fancy cell phones. My SA must pay well. Maybe I am the dumb one for working so hard so they can have it so easy. Lazy, Lazy society. Social Assistance was never brought in to live the rest of your life off of. It was brought in to help you when the going was rough. To many people know the system and the harder you cry or complain the more they get. Get off your lazy _ss and get a job.

Up 12 Down 22

Oya on Jun 26, 2019 at 7:10 am

YG does not advise citizens of the proper process where that citizen has a right to remedies. Not ever. Citizens are required to jump through costly hoops or are required to get a lawyer (if you can find one to take YG on) just to get that what is rightfully theirs.

Not saying this guy should get all the money he seeks as I have no awareness of this program's requirements, but his point about procedural fairness and old antiquated policies that YG relies on to DENY citizens what is rightfully theirs is a very valid point. YG only updates those programs and services where they can reduce YG payouts; they never update programs, services and/or legislation where the citizen is the beneficiary. It's intentional and it's unconscionable.

Up 26 Down 5

Juniper Jackson on Jun 26, 2019 at 4:44 am

Social Assistance, commonly referred to as 'welfare' was put in place, a safety net to help people in the SHORT TERM. Welfare was never intended to be a career. It was intended to cover shelter, food, training if needed for a new job. Somehow it has become a life time career. Pick up your welfare check, buy your booze, weed, go to the food bank, sell it in the alley for 10 bucks. Go back to welfare and advise your money is gone but kids are hungry. Pick up check in 2 hours, I get it..most of the welfare career folks are unemployable.
The girls? having their 3 or 5 kids, too stupid to find a job, and don't want to work anyway. We have to do something with these unemployables. Just give the money and a roof, but now we have entitle career welfare who are getting picky about how much of my money they are getting. IF a person buys new furniture for himself with MY money, being public money. When, if ever, he leaves welfare does he keep that furniture: or does it go to a storage warehouse for all welfare recipients to borrow out of and return at at a later date?

I don't remember at any time Welfare "wages" being in competition with private enterprise. I work..I don't get a new bed. I particularly liked this one, as I would LOVE to have a new bed. What's his other money? So this $3,500 worth of furniture he is going to get..is that his furniture to sell, give away, destroy or not as he pleases? or is it part of a depot? All that being said.. the 'welfare' office has not got a clue about the welfare dollars or how it ends up being spent.

Up 12 Down 0

Ol' Dosey on Jun 26, 2019 at 1:03 am

In a Major development you might say the court was taking it's Mulligan.

Up 3 Down 18

Appellant on Jun 25, 2019 at 12:58 pm

The Supreme Court ruling upheld the decision of the Social Assistance Review Committee, which previously asserted the Appellant was not entitled to the Household Allowance; a decision overturned by a previous Supreme Court ruling. The Appellant has initiated action before the Ombudsman, seeking Government accountability. A petition has also been filed with the Yukon Human Rights Commission.

Up 5 Down 21

Appellant on Jun 25, 2019 at 12:51 pm

The annual $500.00 Household Allowance supplement is available to all Yukon Supplementary Allowance (disability) clients, for purchase of "essential" household items. The Appellant purchased said items from REGULAR YSA benefits (intended for food, clothing and monthly bills), NOT "other income." The first two comments are not informed and are indicative discriminatory misconduct demonstrated by Social Services. "Seriously....How do I get in on all this free money and handouts?" Answer: become eligible for disability benefits, based on serious, debilitating physical and psychological challenges. Then, attempt to survive on insufficient assistance, while fighting for legislated rights. May the first two commentors never face the Appellant's challenges. The third commentor is lauded for reading comprehension.

Up 23 Down 2

My Opinion on Jun 25, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Yep @eyeroll
You are correct. All the people that are living on low wages and working two full time jobs to make ends meet including our new Canadians are wondering why do they bother. We are training people to be TAKERS.

Up 51 Down 9

eye roll on Jun 25, 2019 at 8:53 am

Seriously....How do I get in on all this free money and handouts? I'm really getting sick of working for my money and earning things.

Up 50 Down 4

Woodcutter on Jun 24, 2019 at 11:41 pm

Let me get this straight. He purchased furnishing from other income as well as bed sheets bath towels from other income, like most of us do, and wants to be reimbursed from the folks at SA? All this as well as replacing furniture that belonged to the landlord.

How does a person have other income and live on the dole? I can understand if it's a low income situation, but the level of entitlement just boggles the mind.

Up 12 Down 44

Edie rue on Jun 24, 2019 at 6:43 pm

It doesn’t get more pathetic than this. A man, who clearly has required social assistance for some time, is having to take on the government for something he is entitled to receive, and having to represent himself in court. It’s incredible how neoliberal thought continues to punish poverty, making those who choose it as a public burden, nickle & diming those with few resources. Absolute shame on social assistance for this mess. Good luck Mr Major!!

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