CPD Details

Date and Time: Wednesday, December 18, 2019, 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., lunch provided
Location: The Advocates’ Society – 250 Yonge Street, Suite 2700, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1B1
CPD Hours: 1.5 Substantive Hours

Overview

This training will empower lawyers seeking to participate in PBO’s ACSD Appeals Project by providing an overview of the applicable law and lessons learned from cases PBO has already handled. Attendees will learn how to help vulnerable parents of disabled children who have had their Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD) benefit cancelled appeal the decision to the Social Benefits Tribunal for a hearing based on the totality of the family’s circumstances.

Agenda

A copy of the agenda can be found here.

Project Details

Recently, a growing number of families with special needs children have been told that their access to an Ontario government benefit called Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities, or ACSD, is being cut off.

Under the ACSD program, parents of children with severe limitations are eligible for a monthly benefit to help with extra costs like transportation, specialty clothing, assistive devices and respite. While family income is one of several factors to be  considered under the applicable regulations, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services has established an internal guideline that creates bright-line income cutoffs. The Social Benefits Tribunal has confirmed that these income cutoffs aren’t binding, and that the Ministry must look at the totality of the family’s circumstances as required by the regulations. Despite this, the Ministry continues to drop families from the program apparently based on income alone.

Families dropped from the program must appear before the Social Benefits Tribunal to argue for reinstatement based on the totality of their circumstances. Legal support can make a huge difference for families facing appeals, many of which have already experienced a significant reduction in income and increased expenses due to their child’s needs and must struggle to make ends meet. Having legal representation increases both the likelihood that they’ll pursue an appeal and their chances of success.

Lawyers from PBO’s Medical Legal Partnership (MLP) sponsor firms have successfully argued many of these appeals. However, volumes have increased recently as part of an apparent push to reduce the number of families on this program. We need more volunteers to help these families.

Who is this opportunity appropriate for?

Lawyers or supervised LPP or articling students with litigation or administrative law experience.

What responsibilities will volunteers have?

Once matched with a parent, volunteers will be responsible for all aspects of the parent’s ACSD appeal, including preparing and filing an appeal application, supporting the parent in a settlement conference if one is scheduled, and presenting the case before the Social Benefits Tribunal.

What precedents are available?

With the help of one of our MLP sponsor firms, Gowling WLG, PBO has put together a full package of precedent materials that cover all aspects of the appeal. Volunteers will need to customize these precedent materials based on the facts of their client’s case, but shouldn’t have to conduct any legal research unless the case raises novel issues.

What training and supports will volunteers have?

In addition to the free ACSD Appeals Project CPD session, we will also make available a PBO staff lawyer who can answer questions about the process at any time.

How do I sign up?

Please fill out the information below to sign up for the ACSD Appeals Project – Continuing Professional Development Event. If you’re not able to attend the CPD but would like to join the roster, please click here to sign up.