Practice Direction on
Communicating with the Social Benefits Tribunal


Practice Directions (PD) support the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) Rules of Procedure and provides guidance about what the SBT expects of the parties and, in turn, what the parties can expect from the SBT. They assist in understanding the Rules.


Contact Information

The SBT requires complete and accurate contact information. If your contact information changes, you must immediately advise the SBT and all other parties in writing.

The SBT has a number of forms to help assist parties in providing information to each other and the SBT. Forms are available in English and in French and can be found on the SBT website. For more information on completing the forms, please see the Forms and Filing section on the SBT website (sjto.ca/SBT).

If you have checked our website and still have problems communicating with the SBT or following these directions, contact the SBT's customer service line at 416-326-0978 or toll-free at 1-800-753-3895.

Representatives

A party who is represented must communicate with the SBT through their representative. SBT staff will send materials including hearing notices and directions to the party and to the representative. It is this representative's responsibility to keep his or her client informed.

A representative who ceases to represent a party must notify the SBT and all other parties in writing and provide up-to-date contact information for the party or the new representative.

Communicating with the SBT

All file-related communications with the SBT, including email, must be addressed to the Registrar. Email communications must be addressed to sbt.registrar@ontario.ca. It is not appropriate to write directly to the Associate Chair, a vice-chair or a member.

Communications from the SBT

As a general rule, the SBT will send documents to the parties by regular mail. Where a party has chosen to correspond by email, the SBT will communicate with the party by email.

Communicating with Other Parties

When a party sends correspondence, submissions and documents to the SBT, that party must also send all such materials to all other parties to the appeal. This does not apply to the Appeal (Form 1) or where the SBT has told parties they are not required to do this.

Reference Line

All written communications must include the SBT file number (except where filing an Appeal (Form 1) and the appellant's name.

Where communications with the SBT are by email, the subject line must include the SBT file number and the appellant's name, and the body of the email must briefly describe the attached documents.

Documents

Proof of Delivery of Documents
Parties must certify when and by what method documents and submissions were delivered to the other parties in the appeal. Delivery of submissions and documents to other parties must be verified by filing a completed Statement of Delivery (Form 7) or confirming delivery to the other parties on the cover letter or in the body of the email.

Documents to be Filed Once
Documents, submissions and correspondence should only be filed once. Parties should not send documents more than once, or in another format, unless the SBT directs this.

Documents to be Filed in Single Appeal Proceeding
Some appellants or representatives may be participating in more than one appeal. In order to maintain the privacy of individual proceedings, communications and documents relating to individual appeals cannot be combined or sent together. Documents relating to each appeal must be filed separately.

The exception to this is where more than one appeal for the same appellant is combined into one proceeding.

Each communication with the SBT must be limited to a single proceeding and the SBT files that are the subject of that proceeding. This is meant to protect the privacy of the proceedings.

Communication of SBT Decisions

The SBT sends decisions to the parties to an appeal and to their representatives. The SBT decisions are sent by email to the Administrator and Director, their representatives and to representatives licensed by the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) and unlicensed persons who fall within the category of persons the LSO has exempted from its licensing requirements. Decisions will be sent to all other parties and representatives by regular mail, unless a party has chosen to correspond with the SBT by email.

SBT decisions and interim decisions are posted on the CanLII website (canlii.org) which can be accessed free of charge. A link to the CanLII website is posted under Decisions on the SBT website (sjto.ca/SBT).

Email Communication

The SBT allows communication by email which can be an efficient and effective method. However, email can create challenges.

Parties sometimes treat email as a less formal means of communication and, as a result, forget to copy the other parties or may inadvertently copy people with no direct involvement in the proceedings. It is important to remember that emails will be saved as part of the SBT's records in the same way as letters and faxes.

If a party has included other people or organizations that are not named as a party to the appeal as addressees to an email, the SBT will only include those persons for whom consent to release information has been previously provided.

Although email can be an efficient means of communication, parties should not expect an immediate response. The SBT will respond to all forms of communication in a time-appropriate manner, consistent with the Ontario Public Service Common Service Standards and its own rules and procedures.

Communication through email regarding specific SBT files will be added to the file in the same way as letters and faxes, in order to ensure openness and transparency to all parties involved with the files. Emails will also be stored electronically by the SBT.

Emails received after 5 p.m. are considered to be received on the next day that is not a holiday. If an email requires urgent attention, the sender should contact the SBT by telephone. Contact the SBT at 416-326-0978 or toll-free at 1-800-753-3895 to ensure the request has been received and will be actioned.

Electronic Delivery of Submissions and Documents to the SBT

As of July 1, 2018, the following parties and representatives are required to file all submissions and documents that they are relying on for hearing with the SBT electronically. These materials must be in PDF format, and filed with the SBT by email:

How to Request Email Communication with the SBT

Where an appellant wishes to communicate with the SBT by email, they must complete and file a Form 10 Consent to Communicate by Email with the SBT. In the Form 10, the appellant confirms the email address and authorizes the SBT to use email for all appeal related correspondence.

An email must include the name and telephone number of the sender and an address for contact. An email address can be used as an address for contact where authorized in accordance with this PD.

Given that proceedings before the SBT are confidential, the SBT cannot communicate with an appellant by email without the appellant's permission. SBT staff will only reply by email where the appellant has completed and filed a Form 10 or otherwise meets the requirements of Form 10.

Documents and Materials

Attachments
All documents, including correspondence, submissions and the SBT forms, must be sent as an attachment to an email. The body of the email must provide a brief description of the attached documents and must not include file related correspondence or communications.

The list of attachments is not considered a list or table of contents as required by Rule 5.2. Rule 5.2 requires that any filing containing more than one document must include a list or table of contents identifying each document in order, and by page number. The Rule 5.2 list must be provided as an attachment.

Forms
Completed forms that are filed by email must be sent as attachments to the email. This includes forms that are prescribed by the Ontario Works Act, Ontario Disability Support Program Act, an SBT rule or PD. Where a form requires that one or more documents must be attached to that form, the documents must be attached to the same email to which the form is attached.

Technical specifications

File Size
There is no limit on the number of the documents that can be attached to an email provided the total size of the email, including any attachments, does not exceed 10 mb. Please contact the Registrar for direction on how to file documents that exceed 10 mb.

Format
All documents filed electronically must be submitted in PDF format.

Social Media and External Websites
The SBT cannot accept email communications which include links to social media sites or any other external websites. If a party seeks to rely on social media information or external website content as evidence in an appeal, the information must be put before the SBT in documentary form, as printouts or electronic documents.

Failure to Comply with this Practice Direction

Communications that do not comply with this PD may be returned and the party will be instructed to refile according to these directions and the rules.

Repetitive or Inappropriate Communications
The SBT may refuse to accept communications that are unduly lengthy, repetitive or disrespectful of any other participant or the SBT.

The SBT may vary the approach to communicating, where appropriate, and make such orders or give such directions regarding communications in proceedings before it to avoid an abuse of the tribunal's process.

Electronic Communications
The tribunal may refuse to accept any document or attachment emailed to the tribunal, where a party does not comply with the provisions in this PD.

Failure to comply with the SBT's procedures for email communications may result in an order or direction prohibiting the person from using that method of communication.

Attachments that do not meet the formatting guidelines may be not be accepted by the SBT and may be returned to the sender or disposed of.

Appendix 1 – Document Naming Convention for Respondents

SBT has created a naming convention to ensure that all documents are named consistently. SBT requests that respondents use the following naming convention for submissions.

2.0 Submission Case File Number

Example: 2.0 Submission 1801-00001

Wherever possible, the respondent should add the following bookmarks to their submission:




Effective as of July 1, 2018
sjto.ca/sbt