NDP bill brings fairness to the financial hardship program

October 8, 2014

The NDP want to ensure Nova Scotians who need to access a portion of their pension in times of financial hardship have a fair opportunity to do so.

“Not all cases of financial hardship are the same and there needs to be some flexibility in the system,” said MacDonald. “Creating an appeals process ensures people facing serious financial challenges are given fair consideration when trying to access the program.”

The financial hardship program came under scrutiny this summer following a series of incidents where people who were facing extreme and obvious financial challenges were denied partial access to their pension funds. One such person was Julie Biron, who was told by the Superintendent of Pensions she was not eligible for support even though she was facing eviction from her apartment.

“If it weren’t for Maureen and her willingness to help me with my case, I may not have been able to access my pension. I could be in a very different place than I am today,” said Biron.

“I think it’s important that people applying to this program have an avenue for appeal because mistakes happen, miscommunication happens. We need to make sure people who do qualify for this program aren’t being turned away and I think an appeal process would help with that,” said Biron.

Today, MacDonald will introduce legislation to create a formal appeals process for individuals who are dissatisfied with a decision on their application to the program. The legislation will also remove the processing fee of $113.25 charged to successful applicants, allow qualified applicants to obtain funds for emergency home repairs needed to maintain home insurance, and require successful applicants to participate in credit counselling.

“This legislation will be helping people to stay in their homes longer and we think that is the right thing to do,” said MacDonald.