VICTORIA –People receiving provincial disability assistance who assigned retroactive Canada Pension Plan (CPP) payments to the Province from May 1, 1997 to January 14, 1999 are entitled to partial reimbursement as a result of a recent mediated class action settlement.
During that period, certain Ministry of Human Resources clients were asked to sign a “Consent to Deduct and Payment” form which assigned retroactive CPP payments to the provincial government. The assignment was sought to prevent those who were eligible for CPP benefits from receiving both federal and provincial disability benefits for the same period.
In January 1999, a new regulation was implemented which required clients to assign retroactive CPP payments in order to be eligible for income assistance.
A class action suit was filed claiming the pre-1999 assignments were obtained without legal authority. The class action sought reimbursement of the money, plus interest and damages. The Province denied the allegations, but agreed to mediation rather than litigate the matter before the courts. In accepting this mediated settlement, the Province agrees with the findings of the court that the settlement is “fair and reasonable”.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement that was approved by the court on March 4, 2004, the government will pay each class member who wishes to participate in the settlement 50 per cent of their original CPP payment assigned to the Province. Those clients whose assistance is suspended for one month due to the lump sum payment will be further compensated for lost assistance.
There are expected to be about 1,800 potential class members. Average awards are expected to be about $3,000.
The class counsel law firm administering the settlement will contact class members to inform them of this agreement and their rights under the settlement. Doak Shirreff of Kelowna has been appointed Class Counsel and may be reached as follows:
Barristers and Solicitors
200 - 537 Leon Avenue
Kelowna, BC V1Y 2A9
Main: (250) 763-4323
Direct: (250) 979-2520
Toll Free: 1-800-537-1136