Clinic wins significant decision at Divisional Court concerning disability appeals

The Community Legal Clinic, Simcoe, Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes won a significant decision in Divisional Court that affects people who have been denied Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefits by the Social Benefits Tribunal. The decision Siegel v. Ontario (Disability Support Program), 2011 ONSC 5916, File No. DC-10-175-00 (Div. Ct.)
This was a Divisional Court appeal of a Social Benefits Tribunal decision finding a 25-year-old woman ineligible for ODSP income support as a person with a disability.

The Clinic appealed the decision, submitting that the tribunal had made several errors of law. The Court's found the SBT had erred both in its interpretation and application of the law, and in the manner in which it had approached the evidence. Moreover, its reasons were wholly insufficient to ascertain what findings of fact it had made on the evidence and how it had reached its conclusion based on those findings.

This is a significant decision for people seeking assistance under remedial legislation like the ODSP Act. Claimants under such schemes are entitled to have their claims assessed on the basis of an accurate understanding of the crucial aspects of the evidence. The Court sent this matter back to the Tribunal to be heard by a different member.