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administrative justice, access to justice, administrative law, disability law, disability rights, disability benefits, disability, innovation, public law, social welfare, human rights


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This report provides the findings, analysis and recommendations of a research study conducted on the federal Social Security Tribunal’s Navigator Service (SST Navigator Service). The SST Navigator Service was established in 2019 for tribunal users without a professional representative. The study examines the use of the Navigator Service for Canada Pension Plan–Disability (CPP–Disability) appeals heard by the Income Security - General Division of the Social Security Tribunal.

This research study focuses on access to administrative justice on the ground. It examines how the innovative SST Navigator Service facilitates access to CPP disability benefit decision-making as well as the ways that the Navigator Service could be improved. As part of its focus, the study examined how well the Navigator Service supports users from marginalized communities. The SST serves users who are often at the intersections of being people with disabilities and people who live with low income. Statistically, a significant proportion of people who live with low income in Canada are also women, immigrants and/or visible minorities. The SST Navigator Service therefore presents an opportunity to consider how individuals from these and other marginalized communities are experiencing the system and how the service may be helpfully improved.

Through 36 semi-structured interviews and documentary analysis, the researchers considered the perspectives of former appellants who used the Navigator Service and received at least one tribunal decision between the Service’s inception in November, 2019 and April, 2021. They also spoke with the navigators and, for context, gathered information from relevant government officials involved in the design, implementation and running of the Navigator Service.

In addition to findings about user experiences and navigator roles, the report provides recommendations to maintain and strengthen the SST Navigator Service. It concludes that the SST Navigator Service is an innovation that enhances access to justice. Navigator services may be beneficially adopted by other administrative tribunals at the federal level in Canada, and in the administrative justice systems of the provinces and territories. Navigator services may also be beneficial in jurisdictions beyond Canada.

Ce rapport est également disponible en francais.