Social Security Tribunal of Canada

How we work within government

The Social Security Tribunal (SST) is a federal institution that operates at arm’s length from the Government of Canada. We’re part of the Employment and Social Development Canada portfolio. 

The Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada provides facilities and support services to the SST, as well as to other tribunals. 

Who the SST reports to

The SST reports to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. The SST is independent in making decisions, but we’re still accountable. In fact, we’re accountable to you, the Canadian public. 

Although we’re similar to the courts, we’re part of the executive branch of government, not the court system. We report our progress to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. In turn, the Minister reports to Parliament.

We also report to the Canadian public. We provide regular updates on how we’re doing through this website and other communications. For example, we report on the number of open appeals, how long it takes to decide appeals and changes we’re making to simplify our appeal process and improve access to justice.

Read more about our work in our progress reports.

The SST is different from Service Canada, the CEIC and ESDC

The SST is an independent organization. We aren’t part of Service Canada, the CEIC, or ESDC. Our staff work for the SST. They’re not Service Canada, CEIC or ESDC employees. 

Our independence benefits you. It’s important that someone outside of Service Canada, the CEIC and ESDC looks at whether you received the right decision about your request for benefits.

SST members can’t be pressured by the CEIC or ESDC

The SST is an independent administrative tribunal. No one can tell an SST member how to decide a specific appeal. This includes ministers and other politicians, the CEIC, ESDC, the SST chairperson and vice-chairpersons, the SST’s Legal Services team, and other SST members.

If you appeal to the SST, the CEIC or ESDC can ask us to agree with their position and decide your appeal in their favour—just like you ask us to side in your favour. The SST listens to both parties—you and the CEIC or ESDC. We treat both parties equally. 

SST members decide appeals based on the facts and the law. For example, no one can ask us to dismiss an appeal just to save money for the CPP or EI account. Also, when we overturn a CEIC or ESDC reconsideration decision, no one can penalize the SST or our members for doing so. 

Role of Service Canada, the CEIC and ESDC in the SST’s governance structure

They provide funding and support

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We get our funding from the federal government’s EI Operating Account, CPP Operating Account, and the Consolidated Revenue Fund for OAS cases.

Service Canada provides the facilities for all our in-person hearings and some videoconference hearings across Canada. 

They’re parties to appeals at the SST

Just like you’re a party to your appeal, so is the CEIC or ESDC.

  • If your appeal is about EI benefits, the CEIC is a party to your appeal
  • If your appeal is about CPP or OAS benefits, ESDC is a party to your appeal

In many appeals at the SST, the role of CEIC and ESDC representatives is to defend their previous decision because they feel that their decision was right.

The CEIC and ESDC representatives don’t have any special status at the SST. You’re on equal footing with them. All parties have the same opportunity to present their best argument.

SST members are impartial. They don’t favour one party over the other.

How the SST works with the CEIC and ESDC

We work closely with the CEIC and ESDC to make your appeal process quicker and easier. We do this mainly by exchanging information, but also by trying to make processes more efficient (for example, by improving our case management systems).

People want to know how to get decisions about their benefits, and they want the decisions to be fair and quick. When you appeal to the SST, we first have to get your file from the CEIC or ESDC. We share this file with you. All other documents that form part of the appeal file are shared with all parties to the appeal. 

Here are a few ways we work with different parts of the federal government:

  • We meet with ESDC to talk about how we can help people navigate the system when they don’t agree with a decision
  • We prepare monthly reports with Service Canada on the number of open cases, how quick the process is at each stage, and what the outcomes are for people
  • Our directors meet with ESDC and CEIC directors each month to talk about how to set up efficient processes and how to keep them running smoothly

We have these exchanges to make the system fairer, faster, and easier for people to navigate.

The SST never talks about individual appeals in these meetings. We don’t talk about any aspect of how SST members decide appeals, either. 

Role of the courts

If you disagree with the SST’s Appeal Division decision, you can go to the courts:

These courts are the next step after the Appeal Division. They can decide whether a decision was made properly or if it should be reversed.  

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