Frequently Asked Questions

What programs are covered by the Fair Practices Office?

The Fair Practices Office provides assistance to Manitobans applying for, or receiving services under, the following Department of Families programs:

  • Employment and Income Assistance
  • Community Living disABILITY Services
  • Children’s disABILITY Services
  • Early Learning and Child Care Program (Subsidy)

What does “Fair Treatment” mean?

It means you can expect that:

  • program eligibility requirements and rules explained to you
  • you know when a decision will be made
  • you are able to give your worker new or additional information to help them understand your needs or situation better
  • you are able to clarify or update any information in your file or application that may be incorrect
  • your are told the reasons why a decision was made
  • your questions and concerns are answered by program staff
  • your personal information remains private
  • you are treated with dignity and respect

What should I do if I have a concern about Fair Treatment?

Contact your worker to talk about your concern. If your worker is not able to resolve the matter, ask to speak to their supervisor. If, after speaking with the supervisor, you still feel that you may have been treated unfairly, then you may contact the Fair Practices Office for assistance.

Is there a cost to have the Fair Practices Office review my concern?

No, services are offered free of charge.

Is there a time limit for making a complaint?

No, but the Fair Practices Office gives priority to resolving issues that are current.

How long will a review of my concern take?

Timelines vary, but the Fair Practices Office tries to provide a response as quickly as possible. Most simple issues are resolved within a few days. More complex issues that require more comprehensive investigation can take several weeks or longer to resolve. 

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Does my complaint have to be in writing?

No. You may make a complaint in writing, by mail or fax, or over the phone. When an issue is particularly complex, we encourage people to put their concerns in writing.

Is the Fair Practices Office independent?

Yes, the Fair Practices Office makes independent decisions.

Does the Fair Practices Office represent the person who makes the complaint?

No, the Fair Practices Office acts as a neutral third party to help complainants and program staff resolve concerns. The Fair Practices Office will make inquiries and conduct investigations to resolve complaints. The Fair Practices Office treats all complainants and program staff with respect and open-mindedness.

Can I still file an appeal with the Social Services Appeal Board if I’ve filed a complaint with the Fair Practices Office?

Yes. You maintain your right to file an appeal with the Social Service Appeal Board on any appealable issues. An appeal may be filed before, during or after the involvement of the Fair Practices Office. If we are able to resolve your concern, you may choose to withdraw your appeal before a scheduled hearing.

Will the Fair Practices Office provide information at an appeal hearing?

No. The Fair Practices Office will not provide information or testify on behalf of a complainant or on behalf of the program at an appeal hearing.

Can the Fair Practices Office issue an order changing a decision of the program?

No. The Fair Practices Office does not issue orders. If an investigation suggests that a complainant was treated unfairly, it will make recommendations to the program about how the situation could be resolved.

Does the program have to follow the recommendations of the Fair Practices Office?

The Department of Families programs are committed to fair treatment and rely on the Fair Practice Office to help guide them to improve service delivery. Fair Practices Office recommendations are made after consultation with the complainant and program staff. We aim to work co-operatively with all parties to find resolutions. Program staff are bound by the rules and regulations of their programs and cannot make decisions that go against law or policy. In cases where the Fair Practices Office makes recommendations that may affect policy, a full review of the recommendation and its affect on program delivery would need to be undertaken before changes are made. If you feel that staff are not following the recommendations of the Fair Practice Office, please contact us and we will address your concerns.

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Can the Fair Practices Office get me a new worker?

Probably not. Each program is responsible for their own staffing assignments and availability is affected by existing staff resources, case load and area of expertise. The Fair Practices Office can help you and your worker improve communication.

What does being treated with dignity and respect look like?

Department of Families staff are committed to building and maintaining a respectful service environment, free from all forms of harassment, in which the dignity and self-respect of every person is valued. Employees are personally responsible, at all times, for their behaviour and conduct. 

A respectful service environment is one that values diversity and inclusion, dignity of the person, courteous conduct, mutual respect, fairness and equality, positive communication between people and collaborative working relationships.  

Harassment is any objectionable or offensive behaviour that is known, or ought to be reasonably known, to be unwelcome.  It includes objectionable actions (e.g. touching, pushing), comments (e.g. jokes, name-calling) or displays (e.g. posters, cartoons) made on either a one-time or continuous basis that demean, belittle, or cause humiliation or embarrassment. Harassment can also take place electronically (e.g. text messages, social media, email or screen savers).

Staff and clients both have a responsibility to behave in a manner which will not reasonably offend, intimidate, embarrass or humiliate others, whether deliberate or unintentional.

I’m worried I might lose my benefits or services if I don’t give my worker the information they are asking for, what should I do?

Your worker has an obligation to explain your rights and obligations under the program. In order to determine eligibility, your worker may require you to provide certain information. Your worker has to tell you the consequences of not providing the required information; which may include holding or withdrawing benefits or services. Being told that you may not receive the benefits or services you need can feel frightening when you rely on them for your basic needs. If you are worried that you may lose your benefits or services, ask your worker to explain the reason why the information they are requesting is required and the policy that supports their statements. If you feel that the consequences are not supported by the policy, you should ask to speak to the supervisor in charge. If, after speaking to the supervisor, you still have concerns, you can contact the Fair Practices Office for help.

Will my information remain private?

Not entirely. The Fair Practices Office must be able to share relevant information with all parties to a complaint. When you file a complaint with the Fair Practices Office you will be asked to provide your consent, preferably in writing, prior to the start of our investigation or negotiation with the program.

The personal information provided to the FPO is collected under section 36(1)(b) of The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and section 13(1) of The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA), as the information is directly related to and necessary for the purposes of carrying out the duties of the Fair Practices Office.

Personal information will not be used or disclosed for any other purpose without consent or unless required to do so by law.

I receive services from an organization or agency contracted by the Government of Manitoba; can I still ask the Fair Practices Office for help?

The Fair Practices Office has the authority to review how you were treated by Government of Manitoba staff. If you have a complaint against an organization or agency acting on behalf of the Province of Manitoba, you should speak with your case worker about your concern. If your worker is not able to address your concern, you should ask to speak to the supervisor in charge. If you feel that Government staff have not dealt fairly with your complaint, you can contact the Fair Practices Office for help. You may also want to ask a community advocacy group for help.    

I am living on a First Nations reserve and receiving Income Assistance, where can I go for help?

Income Assistance for First Nations people living on reserves in Manitoba is funded by the Government of Canada and administered by the Chief and Council of the reserves. Federal Income Assistance closely mirrors Provincial Employment and Income Assistance but may vary from one community to another depending on the terms of agreement between the Band and the Government of Canada. You can request certain information from the Chief and Council about Income Assistance including policies and procedures and certain financial information. However, your request must be submitted in writing and you should keep a copy of your written request. The Chief and Council have 60 days to provide the requested information to you. If you do not receive the information you requested after 60 days, or if you have a concern about your benefits or the administration of the program, you can contact the complaints and allegations coordinator of Indigenous and Northern Affairs for help, toll free, at 1-855-504-6760 or by fax at 1-819-934-2352 or email at aadnc.cnap-nacc.aandc@canada.ca .

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