Dealing with Government Agencies

Every government agency will have their own way of operating. They must provide you with this information if you ask for it. Depending on what you need from the agency, you might need to complete an application form, meet with someone in person or attend a hearing.

For example, to apply for Employment Insurance you fill in an application form. If you are a renter, you may ask for a hearing to settle a dispute you have with your landlord.

In some cases, you might be able to ask for a hearing if you are unhappy with a decision that was made regarding your application or following a meeting. If there is a hearing, there will be rules about how it is conducted. There must always be a notice of the hearing. The notice will include the place, date and time of the hearing.  The parties and the person who has the authority to make a decision about the case meet in the hearing room.

Depending on how serious the situation is, you may want a lawyer to help you. In some cases if you do not have a lawyer you can have another person help you. Check with the agency to find out what rules are in place for your situation.

At the hearing, you present evidence to support the decision you want. Usually this is done by calling witnesses. You can be a witness yourself. Witnesses can introduce documents such as letters, photos, contracts, etc. that support your case. Witnesses can only introduce documents that are familiar to them. For example, if a witness wants to introduce a photo, they must have taken the picture or been present.

The other party also presents their case. Each of you can ask the other party’s witnesses questions. At the end of the hearing both parties usually summarize their case and explain why they should get what they have asked for. The decision-maker will decide what to do at the end of the hearing. In some cases, the decision-maker will take some time to consider the case before making the decision.

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