Government of Canada announces appointment of Social Security Tribunal Vice-Chairpersons

May 03, 2013, 17:11 ET from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

OTTAWA, May 3, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, today announced the appointment of Mr. David Wake, Mr. Dominique Bellemare and Ms. Margot Ballagh as Vice-Chairpersons of the new Social Security Tribunal (SST).

The new SST is a single decision-making body that consolidates the work previously done by four separate Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) tribunals. By offering one point of contact for submitting an appeal, it simplifies the appeal processes, while ensuring continued access to administrative justice for appellants and providing greater value for Canadians.

"The new Social Security Tribunal will be fair, credible, impartial and independent. It will improve administrative justice for Canadians by offering simplified appeal processes and an efficient and effective adjudicative process," said Minister Finley. "Mr. Wake, Mr. Bellemare, Ms. Ballagh each have strong legal backgrounds and varied professional experiences that will constitute valuable assets in their new roles as Vice-Chairpersons of the SST."

The SST is comprised of two levels of appeal. The General Division, the first level of appeal, includes an Employment Insurance (EI) Section for EI appeals, and an Income Security Section for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) appeals. Mr. Bellemare will head the Employment Insurance Section and Ms. Ballagh will head the Income Security Section. The Appeal Division, which will be led by Mr. Wake, is the second level of appeal as it decides appeals of decisions made by the General Division.

In addition to the appointment of the three Vice-Chairpersons of the new SST, Minister Finley also announced the appointment of nine additional full-time members approved by Governor in Council. To date, 42 members, in addition to the Chairperson and three Vice-Chairpersons, have been appointed from all regions of the country to ensure regional representation and fairness of decisions. The SST began its operations on April 1, 2013.

For more information on the SST, visit


Announced in Canada's Economic Action Plan 2012, the new Social Security Tribunal (SST) replaces the four, separate tribunals for social security appeals. It is an administrative tribunal with quasi-judicial powers and provides fair, credible, impartial and independent appeal processes for government decisions on Employment Insurance (EI), the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS).

The new tribunal system simplifies and streamlines the process for appellants by providing them with a single decision-making body for EI, CPP and OAS appeals. The SST is led by a chairperson and three vice-chairpersons appointed by Governor in Council. The SST comprises two levels of appeal. For the first level of appeal, a vice-chairperson heads each of the EI and Income Security (CPP and OAS) sections of the General Division. The third vice-chairperson heads the Appeal Division, which is the second level of appeal. The Appeal Division decides appeals of decisions made by the General Division.

The first year of operations for the SST will be a transition period during which it will hear all new appeals while the four tribunals finalize and render decisions on cases already heard. More specifically, the EI Boards of Referees will continue to hear appeals filed (and not decided) before April 2013. These decisions must be issued no later than October 31, 2013. The CPP/OAS Review Tribunals, the Pension Appeals Board (PAB) and the EI Umpire will no longer hear any appeals but will render decisions on all cases heard up to March 31, 2013. Their decisions must be issued no later than March 31, 2014.

Appeals filed with the Office of the Commissioner of the Review Tribunals (OCRT), the PAB and the EI Umpire that were not heard by April 1, 2013, have been transferred to the SST. The SST is notifying appellants whose files have been transferred and providing them with additional information about the appeal processes.

The transition period will be complete by April 1, 2014, at which time the SST will be the only body hearing and deciding appeals for EI, CPP and OAS. If any of the four tribunals is unable to meet the deadlines for issuing decisions, the SST will be responsible for outstanding cases.

On March 12, 2013, Ms. Murielle Brazeau was appointed to the role of Chairperson of the SST, along with 34 full-time members, by the Governor in Council. Members have been appointed from all regions of the country to ensure fairness and regional distribution.

Members of the SST are expected to maintain the public trust and avoid any conflicts of interest. These members are also supported by advisors with legal and medical expertise and have access to professional training.

Key SST Milestones:

  • March 29, 2012 - SST announced in Economic Action Plan 2012
  • June 21, 2012 - SST receives Royal Assent
  • March 12, 2013 - Announcement of SST Chairperson
  • March 31, 2013 - Last day for the CPP/OAS Review Tribunals, the PAB and the EI Umpire to hear new cases. The Boards of Referees will continue to hear appeals filed up to this date.
  • April 1, 2013 - SST begins operations
  • April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 - Four tribunals finalize cases and wind down operations; SST receives all new appeals
    • October 2013 - The EI Boards of Referees must have issued all decisions on cases filed before March 31, 2013
    • March 31, 2014 - The CPP/OAS Review Tribunals, PAB and EI Umpire will have issued their decisions on all appeals heard before March 31, 2013
  • April 1, 2014 - SST becomes the only decision-making body

For more information on the SST, visit


J. David Wake, Ottawa, Ontario
Vice-Chairperson (Appeal Division)

Immediately before his appointment as Vice-Chairperson of the Appeal Division of the Social Security Tribunal, the Honourable Justice J. David Wake presided in the Ontario Court of Justice at Ottawa where he also served as Local Administrative Judge. Justice Wake practiced law in Ottawa for two decades prior to being appointed to the Ontario Court (Provincial Division) in 1994 and then as Associate Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice from 1999 until 2005. He held the position of Executive Director of the Canadian Council of Chief Judges from 2004 until 2009. He was Chair of the Court's Education Secretariat, which coordinated all education programs for judges of the Court. He was a founding member of the Ottawa Defence Counsel Association and a member of the Criminal Lawyers' Association, the Canadian Bar Association and the Advocates' Society.

Dominique M. Bellemare, Montreal, Quebec
Vice-Chairperson (General Division - Employment Insurance Section)

Dominique M. Bellemare is a lawyer who also has extensive experience as an international consultant and corporate board member. In the past, he has worked in private practice and served as legal counsel for the company, Vendôme Property Management, and as vice-president of legal and international affairs with Crédit Mutuel of Montréal. Mr. Bellemare is also currently a member of the Advisory Committee of the Canada-Chile Commission for Environmental Cooperation under the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement. He also has a seat as member of the board of WSPA International, an international, not-for-profit, animal protection organization, and past president of that same board. Previously, he served as a delegate and representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Margot Ballagh, Midhurst, Ontario
Vice-Chairperson (General Division - Income Security Section)

Prior to her appointment, Margot Ballagh was a legal member of the CPP/OAS Review Tribunals since 2006, during which time she reviewed case files, chaired hearings and prepared written decisions for hundreds of appeals related to Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security Benefits. She has also been a member of the Simcoe County Duty Counsel panel and the Muskoka Duty Counsel Panel in Family Court. Ms. Ballagh formerly practiced civil litigation, specializing in personal injury and employment law. From 1995 to 2007, she was the president and manager of the Barrie Hearing Centre. The many law-related associations she is involved in include the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Simcoe County Law Association and the Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals. Ms. Ballagh holds a Bachelor of Science degree as well as a Bachelor of Law degree, both from the University of Western Ontario. She has been a member of the Ontario Bar since 1991.


Robert A. Beccarea, Miller Lake, Ontario

Robert Beccarea is an arbitrator, mediator and consultant in the fields of municipal and expropriation matters. For the past three years, he has been one of seven members providing continuing education to newly appointed adjudicators and Referees of Service Canada. Mr. Beccarea spent a year hearing citizen appeals as a chairperson of the Employment Insurance Boards of Referees.

Charline Bourque, Québec, Quebec

Charline Bourque has worked for the past four years at Service Canada in Québec, where she assumed responsibilities in the area of customer service and as team leader. Previously, she worked for Citizenship and Immigration Canada in Montréal and Mississauga as a risk review officer. Ms. Bourque holds a Master's degree in International Relations from the Diplomatische Akademie in Vienna, Austria, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Université Laval.

Martin Bugden, Toronto, Ontario

Before being appointed as a member of the SST, Martin Bugden held the position of Chairperson of the Employment Insurance Boards of Referees in Brampton, Ontario. Prior to that, he was Operations and Maintenance Manager for the City of Toronto Water in the Scarborough District. As an active member of his community, Mr. Bugden is board President and board Treasurer of the West Rouge Sports and Recreational Association.

Lianne M. Byrne, Toronto, Ontario

Prior to her appointment, Lianne Byrne was a lawyer engaged in a wide range of practice areas, including corporate/commercial, privacy, health and safety, as well as marketing law. Appointed twice as a legal member of the CPP/OAS Review Tribunals, she has experience leading pre- and post-hearing discussions, chairing hearings and ensuring the proper constitution of the Review Tribunal.

Teresa D. Jaenen, Brandon, Manitoba

Prior to her appointment, Teresa D. Jaenen was a regional Chairperson of the Employment Insurance Boards of Referees in Brandon, Manitoba, since 2008. Ms. Jaenen has extensive experience in the events and entertainment fields, having held responsibilities in sales, marketing and client relations divisions of various Brandon-area event and convention coordinating companies. She is also currently owner/operator of Created 4 U, an upstart entertainment company specialising in the provision of personalized crystal awards.

Vikki Mitchell, Sudbury, Ontario

Vikki Mitchell was a teacher for the Sudbury Board of Education for close to thirty years, teaching physical and health education, as well as French immersion. She was the Department Head of the French Immersion Program at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School for ten years. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Mitchell was the Worker Representative for the Employment Insurance Boards of Referees in Sudbury, Ontario.

Dwayne A. Provo, Lake Echo, Nova Scotia

Prior to his appointment to the Social Security Tribunal, Dwayne Provo has held a position of Chairperson for the Employment Insurance Boards for Referees.  Mr. Provo has spent many years with the Nova Scotia Department of Education, the Halifax Regional School Board and occupied a number of senior level positions within the Black Educators Association of Nova Scotia.  Mr. Provo has extensive experience working with multiple divisions within the employment insurance field. He is a member of a number of committees, councils and associations pertaining to health, multiculturalism, athletics and education and is also a former professional football player who has played in the NFL and CFL.  Mr. Provo holds three Bachelor degrees in Physical Education from Dalhousie University, Arts and Education from Saint Mary's University and a Master of Arts in Education from Mount Saint Vincent University.

Oudit Rai, Oshawa, Ontario

Holding a Bachelor of Arts with honours in International Relations and a Master of Arts specialized in Public Administration and Policy Development, this licensed lawyer was a barrister and solicitor in the Oshawa area prior to his appointment. He is also a deputy judge of the Superior Court of Justice for the Small Claims Court. Actively involved in his community, Mr. Rai is the Director of a number of Board of Directors in his area, as well as a member of the Legal Aid Area Appeal Committee for the Durham/Frontenac area.

Joseph Wamback, Newmarket, Ontario

President of Wamback Corporation, a design and construction company, Mr. Wamback has experience in commercial project management as well as in contract and claims dispute resolution. Prior to his appointment, he served as the Chairperson for Employment Insurance Boards of Referees in Mississauga, Ontario. Actively involved in his community, Mr. Wamback is the founder and volunteer Chair of the Canadian Crime Victim Foundation, for which he was awarded the Queens Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 for his volunteer service.

SOURCE Human Resources and Skills Development Canada