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Connecting Ottawa Communique

Connecting Ottawa Communique
January 11, 2022

We are pleased to provide this information for front-line workers to support the information and referral needs of clients. Please feel free to share this email widely among your networks.

New InfoSheet:  Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
A copy of a new information sheet on the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) is available at: https://connectingottawa.com/about-us/connecting-ottawa-resources/

Update: COVID-19 Benefits and OW and ODSP

  • The Ministry of Community and Social Services recently announced that the new Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) will be treated as non-exempt income and therefore deducted dollar-for-dollar from OW and ODSP. 
  • The temporary measure for CRCB and CRSB that was introduced in fall 2020 expired on November 1, 2021, and will not be extended. Under this measure, social assistance recipients granted OW or ODSP prior to October 1, 2020 received a payment of $2.50 for each month they lost social assistance eligibility as a result of receiving the CRSB or CRCB. This small payment enabled people to maintain their health benefits while receiving CRSB or CRCB. For now, recipients with prescription drug or other health-related costs who are ineligible for OW or ODSP because of these federal benefits may be assessed for eligibility for Extended Health Benefits (EHB). Those with high drug costs who do not qualify for EHB can apply to other health benefit programs, such as the Ministry of Health’s Trillium Drug Program.

For the most recent information sheet on CRCB and CWLB, please visit: https://connectingottawa.com/about-us/connecting-ottawa-resources/

Changes to vaccination entry requirements:
The Government of Canada has announced that as of January 15, 2022, certain groups of travellers, who were currently exempt from entry requirements, will only be allowed to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for entry into Canada. These groups include:

  • individuals travelling to reunite with family (unvaccinated children under 18 years of age will retain exemption if travelling to reunite with an immediate or extended family member who is a Canadian, permanent resident, or person registered under the Indian Act);
  • international students who are 18 years old and older;
  • professional and amateur athletes;
  • individuals with a valid work permit, including temporary foreign workers (outside of those in agriculture and food processing); and
  • essential service providers, including truck drivers.

Landlord Tenant Board Updates
In November 2021, the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) sent notices to tenants who filed tenant applications before July 1, 2021. The notices were sent via email to tenants who had provided their email address, and by Canada Post mail to tenants without an email address. The notices informed tenants that the LTB would schedule their hearing in early 2022. Tenants were given a deadline to confirm their intent to proceed with their application. If a response was not received within 15 days (20 days if sent by Canada Post mail), a second notification was sent notifying the tenant that if no further response is received within 10 days (15 days if sent by Canada Post mail), their file would be administratively closed. Update: A tenant who wishes to reopen an administratively closed file may contact the LTB and their file will be reopened so it can be scheduled for a hearing. The request is granted automatically – no questions asked – and there is no fee or need to provide further information.

Effective December 31, 2021, the LTB will no longer use fax machines assigned to regional offices. This means that except for a limited number of circumstances, the LTB will no longer accept documents, including applications, by fax. However, fax may be used for urgent applications, such as when a tenant is looking to stop an eviction or to request a review. In these circumstances, applicants can fax applications and documents that don’t have a fee associated, or where they are eligible for a fee waiver, to the new fax line at 1-833-610-2242 or (416) 326-6455. For more information on the LTB’s decision to no longer use fax machines: LTB: Operational Updates | Tribunals Ontario.

Immigration & Refugee Updates
Please note and share the following updates with your colleagues and clients:

  • IRCC no longer grants automatic 90-day extensions to provide requested documents because of COVID. When a  client receives a request for documents from IRCC, they will have to actively request any extension of time they need in writing, and provide a reasonable explanation for why the extension should be granted.
  • Individuals receiving permanent residence do not attend in-person appointments and must respond to an email from IRCC with their personal details in order to subsequently access the permanent resident portal. They will then register and upload a digital permanent residence photo. If a client’s photo is rejected or they have other issues with the portal, please review this page from the IRCC web site: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/pr-confirmation-portal.html
  • If a client’s application to extend their status as a student, visitor or worker is sent back because it was found to be incomplete, the client will not benefit from implied status. This means that they will not maintain their status while they wait for their new permit. This means that it is particularly important to ensure that these applications are complete before they are submitted. For example, if someone applies to extend their work permit two weeks before the current permit expires, they legally have the right to continue working until their new permit arrives, even though the old one has expired. However, if their application for the new work permit is sent back to them as incomplete, they lose this special implied status that lets them keep working until they receive the new permit.
  • Many settlement workers report that their clients are receiving letters from IRCC requesting documents that have already been submitted. Often these letters request documents and forms for minor children that do not apply to them. For example, clients are receiving letters requesting a Schedule A form for a minor child when this form only applies to individuals over age 18. Some clients are wrongly receiving requests for criminal record checks for minor children and refugees are wrongly being asked to provide a criminal record check from the country they fled. For documents that have already been requested and which are easy to provide again, it is simplest to just resubmit the documents. When documents are requested that do not apply to a client’s situation or documents for adults are requested for a minor child, you can help the client send a letter indicating which documents they are not submitting and why. For example, you can help them explain that their minor child does not require a criminal record check so they are not providing one or that they are not providing a divorce certificate since they have never been divorced. The Canadian Bar Association has alerted IRCC to this issue with the letters they send out requesting documents but so far the problem continues. If you are unsure how to respond to any IRCC request, please contact us at Connecting Ottawa.
  • During COVID, individuals who applied for a study permit while physically residing inside Canada (such as individuals with visitor status) did not have to leave Canada to receive their study permit. However, this policy ended in November 2021. This means that, if someone applies for an initial study permit while physically in Canada, they will have to leave Canada and re-enter in order to obtain their study permit. If you have questions about particular scenarios and COVID travel restrictions, please contact Connecting Ottawa.

Multi-lingual COVID-19 Vaccine Bulletins available
The Refugee 613 Vaccine Bulletin project has published multiple issues over the past month to address key concerns including:

  • What you should know about the Omicron variant
  • What you should know about the Delta variant
  • Why should my child get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Bulletins are available in 12 languages and can be downloaded at: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/1BHcpmyFHDGV_IevXow_Y75FAKl2DpCpJ

“No fault” eviction updates from CLEO
Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) has provided an update on “no fault” evictions via their December On the Radar Publication.  Read what is new in this area at: https://mailchi.mp/cleo.on.ca/on-the-radar-recent-changes-to-ontarios-rules-for-no-fault-evictions

Pardon application fee dropped
As of January 1, 2022, the criminal pardon application fee dropped from $658 to $50. However, applicants are still responsible for any additional fees associated with their application such as fingerprints, court documents, and police checks. More information is available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/parole-board/services/record-suspensions/record-suspension-pardon-application-fee-reduction.html

Electricity Rates adjusted for 21 days
The Ontario government has announced that it will set electricity rates at the off-peak price of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, 24 hours per day for 21 days starting January 18, 2022, until the end of day February 7, 2022, for all Regulated Price Plan customers. The off-peak rate will apply automatically to residential, small businesses and farms who pay Time-of-Use or Tiered prices set by the Ontario Energy Board.  This rate relief is intended to support small businesses, as well as workers and families spending more time at home while the province is in Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen.

Town Hall:  Workers on the Front Line
Justice for Workers (justice4workers.org) is organizing a virtual emergency town hall on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  The town hall will engage experts for a critical discussion related to Omicron and workers on the front lines.  To register, visit: https://www.justice4workers.org/emergency_town_hall?fbclid=IwAR2XNOg89YQbZDhDBBA49BzOhc1qhcBG38pDf7kASPdrLznAqpSX3rmqgsM

Webinar:  How to Intervene When Witnessing Harassment
The Canadian Women’s Federation is hosting a webinar with public educator Julie S. Lalonde where participants will learn strategies and tools to intervene when witnessing harassment online. The event will be held on January 20, 2022 at 12:30 p.m. To register, visit: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1L26NNevTTqGRqCiZ91S2w?fbclid=IwAR295A_MLQ1JWY1V8dTiqxEh62SZCu9YtyUOLong0MyXEYM0AUSxkPx3k2g

Settlement negotiated for First Nations children
The federal government, First Nations organizations, and class-action lawyers announced details of two agreements in principle that, if ratified, could end a nearly 15-year-old legal battle over the funding of child welfare services on reserves and in the Yukon.  The deals, worth $40 billion and reached on New Year’s Eve, would respectively spend $20 billion compensating tens of thousands of families victimized over the last three decades and another roughly $20 billion over five years on program reform.  Once final details are negotiated, the settlement agreements and distribution plan must be approved by the court and tribunal before implementation.

Welfare in Canada Report
The Maytree Foundation has released the Welfare in Canada Report. The reports look at the total incomes available to those relying on social assistance (often called “welfare”), taking into account tax credits and other benefits along with social assistance itself. To read the report, visit
https://maytree.com/welfare-in-canada/?fbclid=IwAR3nE6VKJOG5VMY7agi-eDM9B5no1QVYRkqg1NJZw2u4cgH7XAWaQ4izWK0

Canada Pension Plan Rate Increase
Canada Pension Plan (CPP) premium rates have increased in 2022: https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/cpp-premiums-bump-january-1.6300439?cmp=rss. The Canada Revenue Agency’s chart for CPP contribution rates, maximums, and exemptions, including those for 2022, can be found here:
https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/businesses/topics/payroll/payroll-deductions-contributions/canada-pension-plan-cpp/cpp-contribution-rates-maximums-exemptions.html.

Connect with us …
Connecting Ottawa is available to support front-line workers in Ottawa to provide appropriate legal information and referrals to clients with communication barriers as a result of language or sensory disability. If you have a question or require a consultation, please send it to info@connectingottawa.com along with an Intake Form: https://connecting-ottawa.fpbeta.com/request-for-information-consultation/ .  This will ensure the most efficient response to your request.  As a reminder, we do not provide direct legal services to individuals