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Expected to Work/Barriers to Full Employment Policy & Procedures

Published Date: August 01, 2011
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04 Special Groups

Partners Other Than Spouses

AUTHORITY

Income Support, Training and Health Benefits Regulation, Section 1(2)(a)

INTENT

To ensure people who have mutual obligations of support fulfill those obligations as a condition of receiving Income Support (IS).

The Adult Interdependent Relationships Act (AIRA) defines the kinds of personal relationships outside of a legal marriage. IS expects people involved in these relationships to support each other. In addition, people living in relationships of interdependence (formerly common-law) continue to have mutual obligations of support.

Persons living in these relationships must declare and have the resources of the other person taken into account when assessing eligibility for IS.

Terms Used for the Purposes of the IS Program

  • ‘Co-habiting Partner’ or ‘Partner’ include persons in a legal marriage, common-law relationship or any other relationship of interdependence.
  • ‘Family’ includes both spousal relationships and relationships of interdependence.
  • ‘Household Unit’ include both spousal relationships and relationships of interdependence.
  • ‘Couple’ include both spousal relationships and relationships of interdependence.


Three Broad Types of Household Relationships

  1. Spouses – Two adults in a legal marriage.
  2. Common-law – Two adults in a conjugal or marriage-like relationship, regardless of the length of time of the relationship, and who:
    1. Share one another’s lives
    2. Are emotionally committed to one another, and
    3. Function as an economic and domestic unit (This may include joint ownership of assets, joint landlord/tenant lease or rental agreement, joint registration and payment of utilities, joint vehicle registration, etc.).
  3. Other relationships recognized under AIRA:
    1. Any two adults, who declare they are cohabiting partners
    2. Two adults, not related by blood, living in a platonic relationship, regardless of gender, who declare they are cohabiting partners.
    3. Two adults who have entered into a formal Adult Interdependent Partnership (AIP) agreement as authorized under AIRA. These can be blood relatives.


In all categories the adults do not have to be residing together when determining eligibility as a household or family unit (e.g., partner is working out of town).

POLICY

Declared Relationships
Where two adults present themselves or declare themselves to be a common-law couple or a couple in an AIRA relationship or where they have an AIP agreement, the worker accepts the relationship as one of interdependence for purposes of eligibility and benefits determination – provided the relationship fits in one of the following categories:

  • Two adults, who declare they are cohabiting partners.
  • Two adults, not related by blood, living in a platonic relationship, regardless of gender, who declare they are partners.
  • Two adults who have entered into a formal AIP agreement as authorized under AIRA. (These can be blood relatives.)


Workers are not expected to investigate the existence of the relationship when:

  • Two adults are living in a platonic relationship, regardless of gender, or
  • Two adults have entered into a formal AIP agreement as authorized under AIRA.


Workers are not to assume that two adults are partners simply because they live together, unless other conditions are met.

Substantiation

  • Self-declaration or
  • A signed AIP Agreement


Undeclared Relationships
If the client meets the conditions outlined in the definition above and, in the opinion of the worker, appears to be in a common-law union or a relationship of interdependence, but the client claims that a relationship does not exist, the client is given the opportunity to provide proof that a relationship does not exist.

Proof must be substantiated or clearly documented in Mobius Notes (e.g., the client claims the joint bank account results from a business relationship and can verify).

Two adults living together who have a child of the relationship by birth or adoption are considered to be partners and have a mutual obligation for IS purposes even if they deny it.

Clients suspected of fraud are referred to the Fraud Investigation Unit.

PROCEDURES

Change in Relationship Status
When the client reports a change in status, the worker:

  1. Records the change.
  2. Reassesses the client’s eligibility and benefits.

    Note
    When adding the PID of the partner in LISA, LISA automatically defaults the gender of the partner to the opposite gender of the HH. The worker must manually update the gender of the partner if it is the same gender as the HH.

Relationship has been Determined to Exist
Where a couple living common-law or in an AIRA relationship is uncovered by a case audit or on complaint of a third party and proof of the relationship exits (e.g. joint bank account), the worker:

  1. Asks the client to verify or deny the department’s information.
  2. Assists the client and their partner as a household unit, if they admit to the relationship.
  3. Asks the client the effective date of the relationship and calculates any potential debt, or
  4. If they deny being in the relationship:
    1. Closes the file for non-compliance
    2. Advises them of their right to appeal
    3. Refers the matter to the Fraud Investigation Unit.


No Substantive Evidence a Relationship Exists
If a complaint is received indicating that a client has a partner but no substantive evidence exists, the worker:

  1. Ensures the client signs the EMP 2544 Denial of Spouse/Partner (Declaration).
  2. Closes the file for non-compliance and advises them of their right to appeal, if they refuse to sign.