Social Security Tribunal of Canada

EI Appeal Division: How to prepare for your hearing

Consider your reasons (arguments)

Think about what will help the Appeal Division member understand the reasons why you’re appealing.

You want to convince the member that the General Division made a mistake. See our section on grounds of appeal. You also want to convince the member to fix the General Division’s mistake in a way that’s in your favour.

Consider the decision, documents, and recording

You may want to:

  • read the General Division decision again
  • review the documents we sent you when you were at the General Division
  • listen to the audio recording of the General Division hearing (contact us and we can send you a copy)
  • review the documents we sent you at the Appeal Division (especially the submissions from the other party or parties)

Consider the law

Members have to look at your case and see what the law says about it. They can’t change the law. They have to follow what it says.

You may think the General Division didn’t do what the law says. You may want to check the law.

You could look at relevant legislation (laws from Parliament):

You could also look at the legislation that describes how the General Division and Appeal Division are supposed to work:

You could look at the case law. Case law refers to tribunal or court decisions. A case that’s similar to your situation may help the Appeal Division member. You could look at:

What the member may ask you

At the hearing, the member may ask you to explain why you believe the General Division made at least 1 of the following 4 mistakes. The law says that these mistakes are “grounds of appeal.” This means that the law says that each of these is a valid reason for appealing.

Here are the grounds of appeal in their legal wording:

Ground 1 The General Division failed to observe a principle of natural justice.
Ground 2 The General Division acted beyond or refused to exercise its jurisdiction.
Ground 3 The General Division erred in law in making its decision, whether or not the error appears on the face of the record.
Ground 4 The General Division based its decision on an erroneous finding of fact that it made in a perverse or capricious manner or without regard for the material before it.

The member has to follow the wording of the law, interpret it, and apply it to your situation. 

Here are the grounds of appeal in plain language

Ground 1 The General Division didn’t follow a fair process.
Ground 2 The General Division dealt with an issue it didn’t have the power to deal with. Or it didn’t deal with an issue it was supposed to deal with.
Ground 3 The General Division didn’t apply the law correctly.
Ground 4 The General Division got important facts wrong because it overlooked or misunderstood evidence.

Learn what each ground means on our Your reasons for appealing page.

The member may ask you specific questions based on the 4 grounds. For example:

Ground 1: Questions about natural justice

  • What was unfair about how the General Division handled your case?
  • What did the General Division do that you thought was biased against you?

Ground 2: Questions about jurisdiction

  • Why didn’t the General Division have jurisdiction over the issue?
    • In other words, describe why the General Division wasn’t allowed to decide the issue you’ve mentioned.
  • Who does the law say can make a decision on the issue you’re raising if the General Division can’t?
    • What section of the law says this?

Ground 3: Questions about an error of law

  • Why is the mistake an error of law?
    • In other words, describe how the General Division didn’t apply the law correctly.
  • How did the General Division misunderstand the law?
  • Does a part of the General Division decision go against any legislation or case law such as:
    • a section of the Employment Insurance Act
    • a section of the Employment Insurance Regulations
    • a Supreme Court of Canada decision
    • a Federal Court of Appeal decision
    • a Federal Court decision

Ground 4: Questions about an error of fact

  • What fact did the General Division get wrong?
  • Did the General Division base its decision on the wrong fact?
  • How does the General Division’s finding of fact go against the evidence?
  • How does the General Division’s finding of fact show the General Division overlooked important evidence?
  • The General Division had the documents on file: What are the page numbers of important documents it ignored?
  • When in the hearing recording did a witness explain a fact that shows this type of error?
    • For example: 30 minutes and 40 seconds into the General Division hearing

After talking about the error of fact, the member may ask you about the remedy (solution). If they find the General Division did make a mistake, they can offer a solution. Your answers will help the member decide what they can do. They may ask:

  • Did you have the chance to give the General Division all the information you had about your appeal? 
  • Should the Appeal Division send your appeal back to the General Division? (The General Division would look at your case again and make another decision.)
    • Why?
  • Or should the Appeal Division replace the General Division decision?
    • Why?
  • If the Appeal Division makes a decision about your claim for benefits, what do you want the decision to be? 

Learn about the types of hearing

There are 4 types of hearing at the Appeal Division:

  • teleconference
  • videoconference on a personal device
  • videoconference at a Service Canada Centre
  • in-person at a Service Canada Centre

Some types of hearing aren’t available because of COVID-19.

No one type of hearing is better than another. SST members treat all types of hearing equally. They have to look at the law and the evidence. You’ll have the same opportunities to talk and ask questions at any type of hearing.

The member will decide which type of hearing to schedule. The member usually tries to give you the type of hearing you chose on your Application to the Appeal Division – Employment Insurance form.

We’ll send you a Notice of Hearing in writing. If you have a representative, they’ll get it too. A Notice of Hearing gives you details about your hearing. For example, it says the type of hearing and when and where the hearing is.

Usually, we’ll give you a teleconference hearing if you don’t tell us the type of hearing you want on your Application to the Appeal Division – Employment Insurance form.

Have the documents we sent you with you at the hearing. You’ll need your documents from the General Division and from the Appeal Division. It’s your responsibility to keep track of the documents we send you and to bring the necessary documents to the hearing.

Here’s what happens for each type of hearing:

Teleconference

  • We’ll send you the numbers you need
  • Dial the phone number 5 minutes before your hearing
  • Listen to the prompts:
    • Enter the teleconference ID number
    • Enter the teleconference security code number
  • Wait on the line until the member speaks

Videoconference on a personal device

  • Use a device (smartphone, tablet, or computer)
  • Make sure the device is fully charged
  • You choose where to participate
  • We’ll send you a link to use Zoom
  • Connect 10 minutes before your hearing

Videoconference at a Service Canada Centre

  • Go to the Service Canada Centre on your Notice of Hearing
  • Arrive 30 minutes early
  • Service Canada staff will:
    • show you to the right room
    • explain the videoconference
  • The member will be on the screen at the scheduled time

In-person at a Service Canada Centre

  • Go to the Service Canada Centre on your Notice of Hearing
  • Arrive 30 minutes early
  • Service Canada staff will show you to the right room
  • The member will join you there

Let us know if you need special arrangements or interpretation

If you need accommodation (special arrangements) to make it easier for you to participate in the hearing, we’re here to help. Let us know as soon as possible if you need accommodation. 

During your appeal process, you can communicate with us in English or French. Contact us as soon as you receive your Notice of Hearing if you have limited English or French skills. We can provide an interpreter at no cost to you for the hearing. 

Let us know if you want other people at your hearing

You might want other people there, such as a support person to support you during the hearing. If you do, let us know.

An interpreter will be there too, if you asked for one.

Hearings are open to the public. Other people may observe your hearing. But each case is different. All or part of a hearing can be held in private if the member thinks it’s necessary.

You can ask the member to close off all or part of your hearing to the public. You need to have good reasons for this. The member will consider those reasons. Read about open justice and privacy at the SST.

Find out what a hearing is like

How formal is a hearing?

Appeal Division hearings are informal, but we make sure they’re fair. You and the other party will have a chance to make your arguments and answer any questions the member has about your arguments. 

The member will guide you through the hearing. They’ll make the process as simple as possible.

The member will tell you what to call them. We don’t use the title “Your Honour.”

We’ll address you with “Mr.” or “Ms.” unless you say otherwise. Let us know if you want us to use another pronoun or form of address.

Who will be there?

Usually, just the parties involved in the appeal and the Appeal Division member will be there.

You’re a party. If you have a representative , they’ll be there too.

The Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC) is also a party. It’ll send a representative.

Other people who could be there include:

What if you need a break?

Ask the member if you need a break. Breaks are flexible.

You can have food and drink with you.

How long is the hearing?

Hearings vary in length. The Appeal Division member decides how much time the hearing should take. Most hearings take less than 90 minutes. Check your Notice of Hearing.

Change the date of your hearing if you need to

You can ask to reschedule your hearing if the date or time doesn’t work for you. This may delay your hearing.

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How you reschedule depends on when you got your Notice of Hearing:

You got your Notice of Hearing within the last 5 days

Call us. We can reschedule the hearing over the phone if you got your Notice of Hearing within the last 5 business days.

We’ll work with you to set a new hearing date. Usually, we can change your hearing date only once.

You got your Notice of Hearing more than 5 days ago or you want to change your hearing date a second time

Write to us.

Explain in detail why you can’t be at the hearing set in your Notice of Hearing. The member will decide whether we can reschedule the hearing.

This is called “asking for an adjournment.” You’re asking the member to adjourn (change) the hearing to another date.

If the member says they’ll adjourn the hearing, we’ll work with you to set a new hearing date.

If the member says they won’t adjourn the hearing, we won’t change the date. The hearing will be at the date and time in your Notice of Hearing.

After the first adjournment, the rules for getting another adjournment become stricter. You have to show that there are exceptional circumstances for you to need another adjournment. For example, you’re sick and you have a doctor’s report to show it.

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