June 4, 2003 (37th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Wendy Lill

New Democratic Party

Ms. Wendy Lill (Dartmouth, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity tonight to ask the government side about an important issue which I raised a couple of weeks ago in the House. This is the issue around a CPP disability case for a Regina man named Mr. Foster. I want to raise it again in hopes of coming to some sort of understanding of the government's actions in this case.
Basically, here it is. Mr. Foster is a 60 year old man from Regina who has been unable to work since having two strokes in the late nineties. After four years of denied applications, appeals, poverty and illness, Mr. Foster finally was advised that the review tribunal had accepted his appeal, yet incredibly he has been told by her department that it will overturn the appeal.
Mr. Foster worked for 32 years as a caretaker of an apartment building before suffering his strokes, and he contributed to CPP throughout that time. He first applied to CPP disability in 1999 but was rejected, saying that he could still do light work. His next appeal in March 2001 was denied, citing lack of new evidence. Mr. Foster then tried to get a neurological assessment but it would cost $1,000, which he could ill afford.
At this point, Mr. Foster already was quite discouraged. He started the process in 1999 and about two years later he was not much further ahead. His wife had severe diabetes and they were living off her disability income, which was not enough. In 2000 they were forced to declare bankruptcy. His adviser was worried because Mr. Foster's mental capacity was starting to deteriorate.
Finally, after a cognitive screening by an occupational therapist, which essentially stated he was unemployable, Mr. Foster's appeal was accepted on February 10, 2003. After almost four long years, Mr. Foster finally got what he deserved in the first place, namely his CPP disability, except that Mr. Foster was advised recently that the minister would try to overturn his successful appeal with no explanation. It is the explanation that I am hoping to garner today.
Perhaps the details of this case seem tedious but I outlined them to show the lengthy and unnecessary process which persons with disabilities are forced to go through. I wish I could say that this case is unique, an anomaly, but that is just not true. The one uniqueness of Mr. Foster's case is that he persevered in his appeals for four years, thanks to the support and persistence of his adviser and his family. Most applicants do not have the strength to go that far, but it should not be so difficult to obtain this support in the first place.
Will the minister explain to me how it is that her department has come to the conclusion that Mr. Foster does not deserve the support of the CPP program, a program into which he has paid throughout his working life in the sincere hope that he would never have to access it? Why on earth is the department denying this man what is rightfully his and to what he is entitled?

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic:   Statutory Instruments Act
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