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Revised Statutes of Newfoundland 1990


CHAPTER S-17

AN ACT RESPECTING SOCIAL ASSISTANCE

Analysis

1. Short title

2. Definitions

3. Administration of the Act

4. Duties of officers of the department

5. Report of director

6. Persons eligible for social assistance

7. School children

8. Death of recipient

9. How social assistance granted

10. Social assistance paid to another person

11. Additional income of recipient

12. Review committees

13. Review by review committee

14. Finding or decision of review committee

15. Social Assistance Appeal Board

16. Appeal to appeal board

17. Trial Division

18. Duty or liability

19. Offence

20. Attachment

21. Offence re non-entitlement to social assistance

22. Limitation period

23. Social assistance improperly paid

24. Support order under the Support Orders Enforcement Act

25. Attachment of property deliverable to recipient

26. Administration of recipient's estate

27. Action taken in name of minister

28. Agreements

29. Information re applicants

30. Regulations

31. Penalty


Short title

1. This Act may be cited as the Social Assistance Act.

1977 c102 s1

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Definitions

2. In this Act,

(a) "adult" means a person 18 years of age or over;

(b) "appeal board" means the Social Assistance Appeal Board;

(c) "child" means a person under the age of 18 years;

(d) "department" means the Department of Social Services;

(e) "director" means the Director of Social Assistance appointed under section 3 and includes the Assistant Director of Social Assistance where the context so admits;

(f) "family" means a group of 2 or more persons living together in which a parent or guardian is recognized by an officer of the department as being responsible for the care and custody of the children;

(g) "guardian" means

(i) a relative, or

(ii) a suitable person approved by the director,

who in the view of an officer of the department has accepted responsibility for the care and custody of a child;

(h) "incapacitated" means in a condition of physical or mental illness or disability of such a nature as to make a person incapable of maintaining himself or herself or his or her family;

(i) "lives in the province" means is physically present in the province;

(j) "minister" means the Minister of Social Services;

(k) "officer of the department" means a regional director, district administrator, social worker, or other authorized person acting within the scope of the authority granted to him or her under the Department of Social Services Act;

(l) "parent" includes mother, father, stepmother, stepfather and an adoptive mother or adoptive father;

(m) "recipient" means a person to or in respect of whom social assistance is granted under this Act or the regulations;

(n) "review committee" means a regional administrative review committee; and

(o) "social assistance" means

(i) financial assistance,

(ii) assistance in kind,

(iii) institutional, nursing, boarding or foster home care,

(iv) assistance to meet emergencies arising out of damage sustained through fire, storm, flood or other cause,

(v) assistance towards repairs and renovations to homes, burial of needy persons, and transportation of needy, sick, destitute or stranded persons, and

(vi) other forms of assistance necessary in the opinion of the minister to relieve destitution and suffering or to rehabilitate a person.

1977 c102 s2; 1978 c71 s1; 1985 c11 s22;
1988 c39 s15

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Administration of the Act

3. (1) The Lieutenant-Governor in Council shall appoint, to the staff of the department,

(a) a Director of Social Assistance; and

(b) an Assistant Director of Social Assistance who shall perform

(i) those duties that the director may direct, and

(ii) the duties of the director in the absence or inability to act, of the director, or where there is no director.

(2) In the event of a dispute as to which officer of the department has, for the purposes of this Act, jurisdiction for a matter, the decision of the director is, subject to the director's right to rescind or amend the decision, final and is not subject to review by a court or otherwise.

1977 c102 s3; 1978 c28 s1

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Duties of officers of the department

4. An officer of the department shall, with respect to the area of the province over which he or she has jurisdiction,

(a) receive applications for social assistance;

(b) determine the eligibility of an applicant to receive social assistance and, where the applicant is eligible, determine the amount of assistance and direct payment accordingly;

(c) confer with those officials of the department that the director may designate regarding the applications; and

(d) perform those other duties which the minister may direct.

1977 c102 s4

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Report of director

5. (1) The director shall, not later than May 30 in a year, submit to the minister a report of the administration of this Act for the preceding financial year, together with a statement showing the expenditure made under this Act for that year.

(2) The minister shall lay the report and statement referred to in subsection (1) before the House of Assembly within 15 days after he or she receives them, or where the House of Assembly is not then sitting, within 15 days after the beginning of the next session.

1977 c102 s5

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Persons eligible for social assistance

6. An officer of the department may grant social assistance out of funds appropriated by the Legislature for that purpose

(a) to adults, children or families who live in the province and who through mental or physical incapacity are unable to provide in whole or in part by their own efforts necessities essential to maintain or help in maintaining a reasonably normal and healthy existence;

(b) to a parent who lives in the province and who

(i) is a surviving spouse, and either is living with 1 or more of his or her children and does not have adequate means to care properly for them without social assistance or is responsible for the support of 1 or more of his or her children and because of their continued attendance at school or college does not have adequate means to properly care for them without social assistance,

(ii) is incapacitated and living at home with his or her children, or

(iii) has to remain at home with his or her children because of being unable to obtain the services of a suitable person to look after the home, where the spouse of that parent is incapacitated, deceased, in a prison or a hospital or has deserted the home;

(c) to a person who lives in the province and who is living with 1 or more children of whom that person is guardian and who does not have adequate means to care properly for them without social assistance; or

(d) to a person who lives in the province, on behalf of that person and the members of the family of that person who live in the province, where, in the opinion of the officer of the department, social assistance is necessary for the proper maintenance or rehabilitation of that person or the family of that person.

1985 c11 s22; 1988 c39 s15

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School children

7. Where a child in respect of whom social assistance is being paid is attending school and during the school year reaches the age at which, under the regulations, social assistance stops being payable, the social assistance shall continue to be paid until the conclusion of the school year unless the child sooner stops attending school.

1977 c102 s7

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Death of recipient

8. Where a person in respect of whom social assistance is granted dies, the social assistance shall not be continued beyond the date of the last payment of social assistance in kind or in cash occurring next after the date of death.

1977 c102 s8

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How social assistance granted

9. (1) Social assistance may be granted to the recipient in cash, by cheques or by a written order on a person or, in the discretion of an officer of the department, in kind or in a form or manner under paragraph 2(o).

(2) Social workers appointed under the Department of Social Services Act may, as officers of the department and under conditions that the minister may prescribe, grant short term social assistance that the minister may prescribe to persons applying for it.

1977 c102 s9

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Social assistance paid to another person

10. (1) Where it appears to an officer of the department that the recipient of social assistance is using or is likely to use the whole or a part of the social assistance otherwise than for his or her own benefit or for the benefit of the persons in respect of whom it is granted, the officer of the department may grant the whole or a part of the social assistance to a person other than the recipient.

(2) The person to whom social assistance is granted under subsection (1) shall use the social assistance for the benefit of the recipient or the persons in respect of whom it is granted and where that person fails to do so he or she is guilty of an offence.

1977 c102 s10

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Additional income of recipient

11. (1) Where during the continuance of social assistance under this Act the recipient receives income or resources in excess of the amount previously reported by him or her in an application for social assistance, the recipient shall notify the director of this fact immediately.

(2) Where a recipient fails to notify the director under subsection (1) the recipient is guilty of an offence.

1977 c102 s11

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Review committees

12. (1) The 5 regional administrative review committees in the province are continued.

(2) The minister shall appoint to each review committee 3 members from officers of the department, other than the director.

(3) The minister shall appoint to each review committee 2 alternate members from officers of the department, other than the director, to act as members of the review committee during the absence of a regular member appointed under subsection (2) at a hearing required to be held under this section.

(4) An alternate member appointed under subsection (3) is considered for the purposes of this section to be a member of a review committee.

(5) The chairperson of each review committee shall be a regional director.

(6) An officer of the department who originally made a decision or determination in respect of an applicant for social assistance and refused to grant, suspend, discontinue or reduce social assistance shall not be a member of a review committee.

(7) The minister shall appoint those officers, clerks or employees in the department to be secretaries of the review committees established under subsection (1).

(8) An officer, clerk or employee appointed under subsection (7) shall not be a member of a review committee.

(9) A secretary of a review committee shall keep a record of the proceedings of a review committee and a copy of each communication made under section 14.

1977 c102 s12; 1978 c28 s2

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Review by review committee

13. (1) Where a person affected by a finding or decision of an officer of the department feels aggrieved by a decision or determination of the officer of the department in respect of the granting, refusal, suspension, discontinuance, reduction, resumption or amount of social assistance, that person may, subject to the regulations, request, in writing, either personally or through another person acting on his or her behalf with his or her written consent, and within a time limit to be prescribed, an administrative review by a review committee of that decision or determination.

(2) A review committee shall, subject to the regulations, review, as soon as is reasonable, a decision or determination referred to in subsection (1) and make its own finding or decision. @SS1 = (3) The finding or decision of a review committee shall be given effect in accordance with the regulations.

(4) In this section officer of the department does not include a regional director.

1977 c102 s13; 1978 c28 s3

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Finding or decision of review committee

14. (1) A review committee shall communicate, in writing, its finding or decision made under section 13 to the person who requested the review under that section as soon as is reasonable after that finding or decision has been made.

(2) A communication made under subsection (1) shall set out

(a) clearly the reasons for the finding or decision;

(b) a notice specifying the right of appeal to the appeal board;

(c) the time within which that right of appeal may be exercised;

(d) the procedure on that appeal; and

(e) the manner of conducting that appeal.

1977 c102 s14

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Social Assistance Appeal Board

15. (1) The Lieutenant-Governor in Council shall appoint a board, to be known as the Social Assistance Appeal Board, consisting of 3 persons who are not employees of the government of the province or of a board, commission, corporation or other body that is an agency of the Crown.

(2) The members appointed under subsection (1) shall be persons who have the qualifications set out in the regulations.

(3) The Lieutenant-Governor in Council shall appoint 1 member as chairperson.

(4) The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may appoint not more than 3 persons, who are not employees of the government of the province or of a board, commission, corporation or other body that is an agency of the Crown, as alternate members of the appeal board to act as members of the appeal board during the absence of a regular member appointed under subsection (1) at a hearing required to be held under this section.

(5) An alternate member appointed under subsection (4) is considered for the purposes of this section to be a member of the appeal board.

(6) A member of the appeal board, or alternate member, is eligible for appointment, during good behaviour, for a period of 3 years and is eligible for reappointment.

(7) Members of the appeal board shall be paid the remuneration and expenses that may be prescribed.

(8) Where the chairperson or a member of the appeal board stops being a member during his or her period in office, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council shall immediately fill the vacancy.

(9) The minister shall appoint an officer, clerk or employee in the department to be secretary of the appeal board.

(10) The secretary appointed under subsection (9) shall keep full records of the proceedings of the appeal board.

1977 c102 s15

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Appeal to appeal board

16. (1) A person affected and aggrieved by a finding or decision of the review committee, or a regional director may, either personally or through another person acting on his or her behalf with his or her written consent, appeal from that finding or decision to the appeal board.

(2) The appeal board shall

(a) notify the person appealing a decision of the time the appeal is to be heard by the appeal board;

(b) hear the appeal; and

(c) upon the conclusion of the hearing, confirm, vary or set aside the finding or decision with power to give directions, consistent with this Act, respecting the granting, refusal, suspension, discontinuance, reduction, resumption or amount of the social assistance that the appeal board considers appropriate.

(3) For the purpose of presenting his or her case and producing evidence, a person appealing to the appeal board under subsection (1) may appear before the appeal board on his or her own behalf or be represented by counsel or an agent of his or her choice and may accompany and appear with his or her counsel or agent before the appeal board.

(4) Where the person appealing to the appeal board under this section does not, in person or by his or her counsel or agent, attend the hearing of the appeal after being notified under this section, unless that failure to attend is due to circumstances beyond his or her control and he or she has, by written notice, advised the appeal board that he or she wishes to attend and sets out, in the notice, the circumstances that prevent him or her from attending, the appeal board may proceed in that absence to examine into the matter of the appeal and to hear the witnesses and adjudicate on the matter.

(5) For the purpose of this Act the appeal board has the powers that are or may be conferred on a commissioner under the Public Inquiries Act.

(6) The decision of 2 members constitutes the decision of the appeal board.

(7) The appeal board shall communicate in writing its finding or decision to the department and to the person who appealed to it as soon as possible after that finding or decision is made.

(8) The appeal board may, before deciding the matter of the appeal, refer a question of law or of mixed law and fact raised at the hearing of the appeal for the opinion of a judge of the Trial Division, and the Rules of Court made under the Judicature Act relating to a special case apply to a reference made under this subsection as if that reference were made by the parties to the appeal.

(9) A finding or decision of

(a) an officer of the department; or

(b) the review committee

respecting the granting, refusal, suspension, discontinuance, reduction, resumption or amount of social assistance is not subject to appeal to or review by a court of law.

1977 c102 s16; 1978 c28 s4

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Trial Division

17. Without limiting the remedial prerogatives vested at law in a person, an appeal lies from the decision of the appeal board to a judge of the Trial Division upon a point of law or of mixed law and fact, and the practice and procedure under the Judicature Act and the Rules of Court relating to appeals apply to proceedings under this section, and the judge of the Trial Division may award costs in that appeal under this section for or against the Crown and may fix the amount of the costs.

1977 c102 s17

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Duty or liability

18. Nothing in this Act shall be construed as limiting or removing a legal duty or liability however imposed on a person for the support and maintenance of another person.

1977 c102 s18

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Offence

19. (1) Where a person refuses or neglects to maintain himself or herself or a person whom he or she is liable to maintain, and in consequence of that refusal or neglect social assistance under this Act is given to that person, he or she is guilty of an offence.

(2) Section 736 or 737 of the Criminal Code shall not be applied in disposing of a prosecution for an offence under this section or in imposing punishment for that offence.

1977 c102 s19; 1979 c35 s34; 1981 c82 s4

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Attachment

20. Social assistance is not subject to

(a) attachment or seizure in satisfaction of a claim against the recipient; or

(b) alienation or transfer by the recipient.

1977 c102 s20

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Offence re non-entitlement to social assistance

21. (1) A person shall not on behalf of himself or herself or on behalf of his or her dependents knowingly obtain or receive social assistance that the person or the person's dependents are not entitled to obtain or receive under this Act.

(2) A person shall not knowingly help another person to obtain or receive social assistance which that other person is not entitled to obtain or receive under this Act.

(3) A person who violates subsection (1) or (2) is guilty of an offence.

1977 c102 s22

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Limitation period

22. A prosecution under this Act or the regulations shall be started within 3 years from the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed.

1986 c24 s1

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Social assistance improperly paid

23. (1) Where because of non-disclosure of facts, misrepresentation, fraud, or other cause, social assistance is paid under this Act to a person on behalf of himself or herself or the person's dependents or another person, the amount paid is from the date of the payment a debt due by the recipient or his or her estate, where he or she is dead, to the Crown.

(2) Where a recipient or his or her estate is paid income other than social assistance, in relation to a period of time for which the recipient is paid social assistance, the minister has a right to recover from the recipient the social assistance that the recipient would not be entitled to receive.

(3) For the purpose of subsection (2) "income" includes income or a payment under an insurance policy.

1977 c102 s23

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Support order under the Support Orders Enforcement Act

24. (1) A person who registers a support order under the Support Orders Enforcement Act may receive social assistance notwithstanding that person's entitlement to receive the benefit of the support order.

(2) The minister may determine the amount of support which is to be paid to the person named in the support order as a beneficiary of the order.

1988 c58 s62

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Attachment of property deliverable to recipient

25. (1) Where the director knows or suspects that a person is or is about to become indebted to a recipient or his or her estate under section 23 or that the recipient or his or her estate is about to become entitled to property, the director may by registered letter demand that the person indebted or about to become indebted to the recipient or his or her estate or who has the custody or control of the property pay over to or transfer the money or property to the minister on account of a debt due by the recipient or his or her estate under section 23.

(2) The minister's receipt is a sufficient discharge of the liability of a person to whom subsection (1) applies to the recipient or his or her estate to the extent of the amount stated in the receipt.

(3) A person who discharges a liability to a recipient or his or her estate after the receipt of the registered letter referred to in subsection (1) is personally liable to the Crown as for a debt due to the Crown to the extent of the liability discharged between him or her and the recipient or his or her estate or to the extent of the debt due by the recipient or his or her estate under section 23, whichever is the lesser amount.

1977 c102 s24

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Administration of recipient's estate

26. Where a debt is due under section 23 by the estate of a deceased recipient who dies with or without a will and no letters of probate or of administration have been granted, the Trial Division shall, on the application of the minister, grant administration of the estate to the Registrar of the Supreme Court.

1977 c102 s25

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Action taken in name of minister

27. A debt due under section 23 or 25 may be recovered by the minister, and an action or other proceeding for the recovery of the debt may be instituted in the name of the minister.

1977 c102 s26

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Agreements

28. Subject to the prior approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, the minister acting on behalf of the Crown may

(a) enter into agreements with the Minister of National Health and Welfare, or another minister of the Crown, acting on behalf of the Crown in right of Canada respecting the payment by the Government of Canada to the government of the province of a portion of the total cost to the province of providing assistance to persons in need;

(b) enter into reciprocal agreements with another province of Canada respecting assistance to persons in need; and

(c) enter into supplementary agreements amending agreements referred to in paragraph (a) or (b).

1977 c102 s27

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Information re applicants

29. The minister may enter into agreements with the Canadian Employment and Immigration Commission to provide for the exchange of names and social insurance numbers of applicants or recipients of social assistance and unemployment insurance.

1983 c83 s1

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Regulations

30. (1) The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may make regulations

(a) governing the manner of applying for social assistance;

(b) prescribing the maximum social assistance that may be granted;

(c) providing for the modification, suspension and cancellation of social assistance;

(d) fixing the intervals at which and the manner in which social assistance shall be granted;

(e) prescribing forms for use under this Act and the regulations;

(f) respecting property qualifications and other sources of income and other qualifications of recipients;

(g) prescribing the material or proof of a fact including evidence under oath or affirmation that shall be provided as a condition precedent to the granting of social assistance;

(h) providing for the designation of persons as investigators and prescribing their powers and duties;

(i) providing for the making of investigations respecting persons to whom social assistance may be granted or by whom or on whose behalf application has been made for social assistance or who are in receipt of social assistance;

(j) prescribing qualifications of persons for appointment as members of the appeal board, and different qualifications may be prescribed for different persons for appointment to the appeal board;

(k) prescribing the time within which an application for review by a review committee may be made and within which an appeal to the appeal board under that section may be taken;

(l) prescribing for the purposes of the review committees and the appeal board, the procedure on applications for reviews and on appeals and on the conduct of reviews and appeals;

(m) for giving effect to a finding or decision of a review committee or appeal board;

(n) providing for the payment by the province to members of the appeal board of remuneration and expenses that may be prescribed in the regulations;

(o) prescribing the time when and the manner in which findings or decisions of the review committee and of the appeal board shall be communicated to the persons concerned;

(p) providing for the payment by the province of travelling and other expenses that the regulations may prescribe respecting the attendance of the person appealing to the appeal board, or of his or her representative, or of witnesses, that the regulations may prescribe and under circumstances that the regulations may prescribe, including conferring on the appeal board the power to fix the expenses to be paid or to direct that no expenses be paid under circumstances which may be specified in the regulations;

(q) prescribing what decisions of officials of the department, to be specified in the regulations, shall be made in writing and communicated in writing to persons to be specified in the regulations and prescribing what information concerning the right to a review or appeal under this Act shall accompany those written decisions;

(r) respecting other matters relating to review committees or to the appeal board that appear necessary or desirable to ensure that applications respecting social assistance are fully considered and dealt with;

(s) prescribing a rate or formula for computing the recovery of amounts of overpayments of social assistance granted to a recipient under this Act;

(t) providing that a person who contravenes or fails to comply with the regulations is guilty of an offence; and

(u) generally, to give effect to the purpose of this Act.

(2) In respect of the matters set out in subsection (1), different regulations may be made as respects different classes or kinds of social assistance or as respects social assistance granted to different classes of persons or as respects social assistance granted to the same class of persons under different circumstances, and regulations may be made to apply generally or to a particular part of the province.

(3) Regulations made under subsection (1) or (2) may be made with retroactive effect.

1977 c102 s28

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Penalty

31. A person guilty of an offence under this Act or the regulations is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than $200 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than 3 months, or to both a fine and imprisonment.

1977 c102 s29

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