1st Session, 58th General Assembly
49 Elizabeth II, 2000
The Honourable Peter G. Christie
Minister of Community Services
First Reading: October 26, 2000
Second Reading: November 3, 2000
Third Reading: November 27, 2000 (WITH COMMITTEE AMENDMENTS)
Royal Assent: November 30, 2000
WHEREAS independence and self-sufficiency, including economic security through opportunities for employment, are fundamental to an acceptable quality of life in Nova Scotia;
AND WHEREAS individuals, government and the private sector share responsibility for economic security;
AND WHEREAS some Nova Scotians require help to develop skills and abilities that will enable them to participate as fully in the economy and in their communities so far as it is reasonable for them to do;
AND WHEREAS the Government of Nova Scotia recognizes that the provision of assistance to and in respect of persons in need and the prevention and removal of the causes of poverty and dependence on public assistance are the concern of all Nova Scotians;
AND WHEREAS it is necessary that income assistance be combined with other forms of assistance to provide effectively for Nova Scotians in need;
AND WHEREAS employment support and income assistance must be effective, efficient, integrated, co-ordinated and financially and administratively accountable;
THEREFORE be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows:
1 This Act may be cited as the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act.
2 The purpose of this Act is to provide for the assistance of persons in need and, in particular, to facilitate their movement toward independence and self-sufficiency.
3 In this Act,
(a) "assistance" means the provision of money, goods or services to a person in need for
(i) basic needs, including food, clothing, shelter, fuel, utilities and personal requirements,
(ii) special needs,
(iii) employment services;
(b) "deferred income" includes retroactive pay, retroactive pension or other benefits and any form of compensation for loss of income, including compensation paid for insufficient notice of termination of employment;
(c) "employment services" means services and programs to assist recipients in enhancing their employability and quality of life, including programs provided by other departments, agencies or governments in partnership with the Minister;
(d) "Minister" means the Minister of Community Services;
(e) "municipality" means a regional municipality, incorporated town or municipality of a county or district;
(f) "overpayment" means any assistance paid pursuant to this Act that was paid in error, was overpaid or was paid based on false or misleading information supplied by an applicant or that otherwise ought not to have been paid according to this Act and the regulations, and includes sums paid to a person who receives deferred income with respect to any period for which assistance was provided and sums paid to a person that were agreed to be repayable, whether out of the proceeds of the deferred sale of an asset, from deferred income or otherwise;
(g) "person in need" means a person whose requirements for basic needs, special needs and employment services as prescribed in the regulations exceed the income, assets and other resources available to that person as determined pursuant to the regulations.
4 (1) The Minister has the general supervision and management of this Act and the regulations.
(2) The Minister may delegate in writing to any person or class of persons in the public service any of the duties, powers or functions of the Minister pursuant to this Act, except the powers and duties set out in Sections 5 and 11, and shall, when so delegating, specify the powers, duties or functions to be exercised by the person or class of persons and any conditions imposed on the exercise of the powers or the performance of the duties or functions.
5 The Minister may make and enter into agreements on behalf of the Province with the Government of Canada or the government of another province of Canada or any minister or agency of them with respect to any matter pursuant to this Act.
6 (1) The Minister may, from the funds from time to time appropriated by the Legislature, provide programs that are intended to
(a) assist in the development of individual, family and community capacity to become self-sufficient;
(b) increase the ability of persons to assume greater responsibility for themselves;
(c) lessen dependence on public financial assistance;
(d) provide support services to allow persons who may otherwise be in need to avoid dependence on public financial assistance; and
(e) lessen, remove or prevent the causes and effects of poverty.
(2) In providing programs pursuant to subsection (1), the Minister may provide for pilot projects, demonstration projects and innovations in assistance, programs and services in all or part of the Province.
7 (1) Subject to this Act and the regulations, the Minister shall furnish assistance to all persons in need.
(2) Persons assisting the Minister in the administration of this Act shall
(a) receive applications for assistance; and
(b) in accordance with this Act and the regulations,
(i) determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive assistance,
(ii) determine the amount of financial assistance the applicant is eligible to receive,
(iii) determine the other forms of assistance available that would benefit the applicant,
(iv) advise the applicant of the amount of financial assistance that will be provided, the other forms of assistance that will be available for the applicant and the conditions to be met to ensure the continuation of the assistance provided,
(v) advise the applicant that the applicant has the right to appeal determinations made pursuant to this Act, and
(vi) from time to time review the assistance provided to a recipient, and in particular whether any conditions imposed have been met, and promptly advise the recipient of any changes in eligibility and of the right to appeal the change.
8 Any information acquired pursuant to this Act with respect to any person who has applied for or received any assistance pursuant to this Act may be provided to
(a) a person who requires the information to perform a duty pursuant to this Act, to similar legislation in this or other provinces of Canada, or to a statute of the Parliament of Canada;
(b) a person performing similar duties pursuant to similar legislation in other jurisdictions that have entered into reciprocal arrangements with the Government of the Province with respect to information exchange and the protection from disclosure of any information so provided.
9 Assistance provided pursuant to this Act is not assignable and is not subject to seizure or garnishment except as may be required in order to recover an overpayment.
10 Where the Minister determines that a person in need
(a) is incapacitated or otherwise incapable of managing financial affairs; or
(b) is or is likely to use any assistance otherwise than for the purpose for which the assistance was granted,
the Minister may direct that any assistance paid pursuant to this Act be paid to a trustee, other than the person's landlord within the meaning of the Residential Tenancies Act or a member of the landlord's family, agreeable to the Minister for the benefit of the person in need or be applied by the Minister, in whole or in part, to such purposes as the Minister may direct.
11 The Minister shall establish such appeal boards for the Province as the Minister considers necessary.
12 (1) Any person who has applied for or who has received assistance pursuant to this Act may appeal any decision related to the person's application or assistance received.
(2) An appeal board may hear appeals pursuant to the Social Assistance Act.
(3) An appeal may be filed with the Minister at any time within thirty days after the decision complained of is communicated to the applicant or person who received assistance.
(4) The Minister shall review the appeal and, within ten days after the receipt of an appeal, advise the person appealing whether the decision complained of is upheld, varied or reversed, and the reasons for upholding or changing the decision.
(5) Within ten days after receipt of the notice pursuant to subsection (4), the person appealing shall advise the Minister whether the person will continue the appeal and, where the appeal is not continued, the decision set out in the notice is deemed to be satisfactory.
(6) Where the appeal is continued, the appeal shall be set down for hearing before an appeal board.
13 (1) An appeal board shall hear an appeal in camera, permitting access only to a representative of the Minister, the appellant, the appellant's counsel or agent and such other persons as the board may determine.
(2) The board shall determine the facts and whether the decision made, on the basis of the facts found by the board, is in compliance with this Act and the regulations.
(3) Where the board determines that the decision is contrary to this Act and the regulations, the board shall vary or reverse the decision in accordance with this Act and the regulations.
(4) A decision of the board shall contain the facts found by the board, a statement of the issue in the appeal, the applicable provisions of this Act and the regulations and a statement of the reasons for the board's decision.
14 (1) An overpayment may be recovered from the person to whom it was paid or from that person's estate.
(2) An overpayment is a debt due by the recipient, or the estate of a recipient, to Her Majesty in right of the Province.
(3) Where the overpayments were paid notwithstanding full disclosure by the person in receipt of them of all relevant information required by the regulations, the recovery of them is limited to the overpayments for the six months immediately before the making of a demand for the recovery of the overpayment.
(4) Subsection (3) does not apply to assistance paid on condition that it would be repaid from the deferred sale of an asset or otherwise, to sums paid to a person who receives deferred income with respect to any period for which assistance was provided or to assistance that was agreed in writing to be repayable.
(5) Where funds are to be recovered from a person in receipt of assistance pursuant to this Act, the amount may be recovered from the assistance otherwise payable to that person.
15 Where the Minister determines that the recovery from a person of overpayments
(a) is not possible because of the death, bankruptcy, permanent absence from the Province of the person or other cause;
(b) will cause undue hardship to the person; or
(c) is contrary to the purpose of this Act,
the Minister may direct that the overpayments, or part of them, were properly paid and shall not be recovered from the person.
16 (1) Where the Minister determines that a person has received an overpayment and has failed to comply with a demand to repay the overpayment, the Minister may register in any registry of deeds a certificate setting out the amount of the overpayment or other payment that may be recovered pursuant to this Act and the name of the person liable to repay or pay it and, upon registration, the Minister's certificate has the same effect as a judgment registered pursuant to the Registry Act.
(2) A registrar of deeds shall register any certificate purporting to be signed by the Minister or a person acting for the Minister without further proof.
17 (1) Where the Minister determines that a person has received an overpayment, has failed to comply with a demand to repay the overpayment and that the person or the person's estate is about to become entitled to any property, the Minister may demand in writing that the person liable to make the payment or transfer the property pay or transfer it, or so much of it as is necessary to recover the anticipated overpayment, to the Minister.
(2) The Minister's receipt is a good and sufficient discharge of the liability of the person liable to make the payment or transfer the property to the extent of the amount stated in the receipt.
(3) A person who fails to make the payment to the Minister required by subsection (1) is personally liable to the Minister for the amount of the payment required by the Minister, as a debt due to Her Majesty in right of the Province, to the extent of the payment due or the value of the property to be transferred.
18 Where any child under nineteen years of age seeks assistance or is given assistance pursuant to this Act, the Minister is subrogated to that child's right to support from the child's parents.
19 (1) No person shall knowingly obtain, receive or retain any assistance pursuant to this Act for which that person is not eligible pursuant to this Act.
(2) No person shall make any false or misleading statement in any application made pursuant to this Act.
(3) No person shall provide any false or misleading information to the Minister or to a person assisting the Minister in the administration of this Act.
(4) No person shall knowingly aid or abet another person to apply for, obtain, receive or retain any assistance pursuant to this Act for which that person is not eligible pursuant to this Act.
(5) Any person who violates this Section is guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to the penalty provided in the Summary Proceedings Act.
20 The Minister may prescribe any forms required for the effective administration of this Act.
21 (1) The Governor in Council may make regulations
(a) respecting the manner in which an application for assistance is to be made;
(b) providing for the time and manner of providing assistance;
(c) prescribing standards for assistance to be granted to persons in need;
(d) prescribing the maximum rates of assistance that may be granted;
(e) providing for the modification, suspension and cancellation of assistance;
(f) prescribing the manner in which moneys paid in trust shall be dealt with and accounted for by the trustee;
(g) prescribing the procedure on appeals;
(h) providing for the remuneration of appeal boards;
(i) respecting the powers, duties, composition and quorum of appeal boards and the qualifications of board members;
(j) prescribing the material to be provided by an applicant or recipient for the purpose of confirming eligibility and means to verify the information so provided;
(k) respecting the form in which assistance may be granted including money, goods, shelter, health care services, social services, training or other form, or any combination of them;
(l) respecting eligibility for assistance or for any program or service provided pursuant to this Act;
(m) respecting the determination of the income, assets and other resources that are available to a person in need and respecting the exclusion of a principal residence from such assets;
(n) respecting the amount of income or assets that may be retained by an applicant for or recipient of assistance;
(o) respecting the recovery of overpayments;
(p) respecting rates of forgiveness for overpayments where the person liable for repayment of the overpayment has become employed and has ceased to be in receipt of assistance, in whole or in part;
(q) prescribing methods by which the amount and forms of assistance to be provided pursuant to this Act are to be calculated or determined;
(r) providing for supplementary assistance in addition to any maximum amount of assistance that may be provided in the regulations and prescribing maximum amounts for supplementary assistance;
(s) defining any word or expression used in this Act and not defined herein;
(t) providing for any matters necessary or desirable in respect of the transition from assistance pursuant to enactments in force before the coming into force of this Act and the provision of assistance pursuant to this Act;
(u) respecting any other matter or thing that is necessary to effectively carry out the intent and purpose of this Act.
(2) The exercise by the Governor in Council of the authority contained in subsection (1) is regulations within the meaning of the Regulations Act.
22 (1) Clause 4(d) of Chapter 432 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Social Assistance Act, is repealed and the following clause substituted:
(d) "person in need" means a person who requires financial assistance to provide for the person in a home for special care or a community based option;
(2) Chapter 432 is further amended by adding immediately after Section 7 the following Section:
7A Any agreement entered into between a municipal unit or a social services committee and the Minister pursuant to Section 7 continues in force in so far as it is required to be in force for the purpose of enabling the Minister to
(a) administer and manage all matters that are the responsibility of the social services committee or municipal unit under this Act and the regulations;
(b) establish policies and procedures required to provide financial assistance to persons in need under this Act and the regulations.
(3) Parts II and III of Chapter 432 are repealed and the following Section substituted:
19 Any person who applies for or receives assistance pursuant to this Act on or after August 1, 2001, may appeal any decision related to the person's application or assistance received to an appeal board established pursuant to the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act and the provisions of that Act and any regulations made pursuant to that Act respecting appeals apply mutatis mutandis to appeals made pursuant to this Section.
23 Chapter 158 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Family Benefits Act, is repealed.
24 Chapter 423 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Settlement Act, is repealed.
25 (1) Municipalities shall contribute to the cost of providing assistance pursuant to this Act as provided in the Memorandum of Understanding entered into between the Province of Nova Scotia and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities dated April 7, 1998, as supplemented by agreements between individual municipalities and the Minister providing for the administration of the social assistance responsibilities of municipalities by the Minister.
(2) On and after April 1, 2003, municipalities are not required to contribute to the cost of providing assistance pursuant to this Act.
26 (1) On the coming into force of this Act, no benefits are payable pursuant to the Family Benefits Act and all persons in receipt of benefits pursuant to that Act and all persons whose eligibility for benefits pursuant to that Act is under consideration, review or assessment, shall have their eligibility for assistance determined, reviewed and assessed and assistance provided pursuant to this Act and the regulations made pursuant to this Act.
(2) On the coming into force of this Act, no assistance is payable pursuant to the Social Assistance Act, except such assistance as is payable pursuant to that Act as amended by this Act, and all persons in receipt of assistance that is no longer paid pursuant to that Act and all persons whose eligibility for assistance that is no longer paid pursuant to that Act is under consideration, review or assessment, shall have their eligibility for assistance determined, reviewed and assessed and have assistance provided pursuant to this Act and the regulations made pursuant to this Act.
27 (1) Overpayments of benefits under the Family Benefits Act and overpayments of assistance under the Social Assistance Act made before the coming into force of this Act may be recovered on the same basis and in the same manner as provided in this Act for the recovery of an overpayment.
(2) An overpayment of benefits under the Family Benefits Act or an overpayment of assistance under the Social Assistance Act, made before the coming into force of this Act, whether discovered before or after the coming into force of this Act, shall be calculated according to the enactments in force when the overpayment was made.
28 (1) On and after September 1, 2001, no appeal may be made with respect to
(a) a decision made under the Family Benefits Act; or
(b) a decision made in relation to assistance applied for or provided before August 1, 2001, under the Social Assistance Act.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), where after the coming into force of this Act an overpayment under either the Family Benefits Act or the Social Assistance Act is determined to have been made before the coming into force of this Act, and no appeal in respect of the overpayment was made, the determination of the overpayment may be appealed pursuant to this Act within thirty days after the recipient has been advised of the determination of the overpayment.
(3) Where an appeal board appointed pursuant to Part II of the Social Assistance Act is seized with an appeal immediately before the coming into force of this Act, the appeal board appointed pursuant to that Act shall hear the appeal and render a decision according to the enactments in force at the time the decision appealed from was made.
(4) Where no appeal board appointed pursuant to Part II of the Social Assistance Act was, immediately before the coming into force of this Act, seized with an appeal of a decision made under the Family Benefits Act or the Social Assistance Act, the appeal of the decision shall be heard by an appeal board constituted pursuant to this Act according to the enactments in force at the time the decision appealed from was made.
29 This Act has effect on and after August 1, 2001.