Cann v Fort Garry/River Heights (Director), 2021 MBCA 75


The Manitoba Court of Appeal has confirmed that in particular circumstances, a portion of a single Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payment is to be exempted from the calculation of an Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) recipient’s financial resources.

In the Spring of 2020, faced with the stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic and receiving insufficient EIA benefits to meet his needs and those of his service animal, the Appellant applied for CERB and received a single payment of which he kept only a portion. The EIA program deemed these funds to be “earned income” and found that the Appellant had received benefits he was not entitled to.

On appeal to the Social Services Appeal Board (SSAB), the EIA program’s finding was upheld and its resulting decision to reduce the Appellant’s monthly benefits was confirmed. The Board relied primarily on its own finding that the Appellant had not been eligible to receive the CERB.

The Public Interest Law Centre represented the Appellant in his appeal to the Manitoba Court of Appeal, which found that his eligibility for CERB was not relevant to his eligibility for EIA benefits. The Court also decided that the portion of the CERB payment he kept in order to meet his needs should have been exempted from the calculation of his available financial resources.

This decision emphasizes both the complicated nature of the EIA program’s bureaucracy and the continuing importance of the program’s rules being interpreted in a manner responsive to recipients’ needs.

The Court of Appeal’s decision, available here, is also discussed in this September 24, 2021 article published by Canadian Lawyer Magazine.