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More seniors face ‘ludicrous’ reality of being declared dead

More seniors face ‘ludicrous’ reality of being declared dead

Extra seniors have come ahead with tales about dropping pension advantages as a result of the Canadian authorities erroneously declared them useless, resulting in questions on how widespread the issue is perhaps.

Miroslaw Konior was able to put weeks of irritating calls with Service Canada behind him when he examine Michael Zakrzewski — a fellow Polish-Canadian who’d additionally discovered himself useless on paper, however nonetheless very a lot alive in the actual world. 

“It’s already two individuals affected, and perhaps there’s extra,” Konior stated. “Everyone’s coping with it quietly, not realizing it’s a wider drawback.” 

In reality, Konior was neither the primary nor the final senior to contact CBC Information after Zakrzewski’s story was revealed, regardless of Employment and Social Growth Canada (ESDC) saying the situation was so uncommon it couldn’t present statistics.

All have been capable of get their advantages reinstated, however they’re nonetheless unhappy with the federal government’s rationalization of the way it occurred within the first place.

Split image of an older man in a blue sweatshirt standing in front of trees and a picture of a government form
Miroslaw Konior, 65, acquired a letter from Service Canada addressed to his “property” with an utility for his spouse to use for loss of life advantages. (Miroslaw Konior)

Canada acted on overseas loss of life notification

When Konior acquired a type for his spouse to use for loss of life advantages at first of April, together with a letter addressed to his “property”, he discovered the state of affairs humorous.

However his good humour light when he noticed that his pension and outdated age safety advantages weren’t in his account. 

“I referred to as the social companies and the woman was reluctant to inform me why [the money was not deposited],” he defined. After urgent the agent, she admitted that he — like Zakrzewski — was declared useless based mostly on a notification letter from Poland. 

“However I’m a resident in Canada. I reside right here,” he stated. “Why would Poland ship that notification to Canada?” 

A man and woman in their 60s look through a folder with a few documents in it
Michael Zakrzewski and Stefania Zakrzewski have been initially instructed by the Polish authorities that they by no means despatched the letter the Canadian authorities used to declare him useless. (Reno Patry/CBC Information)

The reason was significantly complicated to the boys as a result of, not like Canada, Poland was nonetheless paying their advantages.

Konior determined to not push the problem with the Polish Social Insurance coverage Establishment, identified domestically as ZUS, whereas Zakrzewski was assured the letter didn’t come from them. 

Poland apologizes for clerical mix-up 

However when Service Canada finally launched to Zakrzewski a replica of the “liaison type” that was used as an official loss of life notification, it turned clear that this was not a rip-off or something malicious, however merely a clerical error. 

ZUS instructed CBC it sends 1000’s of those kinds to Canadian authorities annually in an effort to present or request data on residents.

On this case, a “date of choice” — a discipline which doesn’t appear to exist on the bilingual inventory type — was incorrectly entered into the “date of loss of life” discipline. The “place of loss of life” was left empty. 

“We’re very sorry that this occurred,” ZUS spokesperson Monika Kiełczyńska wrote to CBC. “We apologize each to the individual involved and the Canadian establishment.”

After weeks of follow-up calls Zakrzewski stated he thought of the discharge of the doc a “miracle,” however he’s nonetheless ready for an official written apology. 

A stock form in English and Polish indicates someone died on Dec. 29, 2022
Poland’s social companies company has confirmed to CBC Information {that a} employee unintentionally put what it calls the date of its choice into the date of loss of life discipline on a type it despatched to the Canadian authorities about Michael Zakrzewski. (Michael Zakrzewski)

Not a ‘one-in-a-million’ mistake

Konior, 65, and Zakrzewski, 67, have been each tipped off to their faulty deaths by letters. However another seniors who contacted CBC by no means acquired any notification in any respect. 

At some point in 2021, retired grasp warrant officer Claude Dionne checked his checking account and “all of a sudden” the cash from his army pension was not there. 

When he referred to as to ask why, he was instructed that when the cellphone quantity on his file — which was by no means modified after Dionne moved a decade earlier — went out of service, his advantages have been halted. 

Dionne stated the voice on the opposite finish instructed him that typically individuals “move away and we don’t learn about it.”

“I wished an evidence,” stated Dionne. “He by no means obtained again to me.”

In instances the place advantages have to be preventively suspended, purchasers are knowledgeable.– Employment and Social Growth Canada assertion

When Richard Newman, a retired college lab tech, seen his personal checking account was wanting a bit mild in 2021, he was instructed that he was assumed useless as a result of he failed to return a authorities letter. 

“I used to be relatively peeved off,” he stated, noting that he was fortunate sufficient to have the ability to get by with out the funds for the three months it took to type issues out.

“The factor is, that cash ought to have been there. And the way did they handle to kill me off with out a loss of life certificates?” 

With it showing more and more unlikely this isn’t a “one-in-a-million” occasion, Newman stated he’s apprehensive about older seniors who don’t have the time and endurance to spend weeks pushing for solutions. 

‘Wake-up name’ 

That’s additionally a priority for Laura Tamblyn Watts, founder and CEO of the nationwide seniors’ advocacy group CanAge, who calls it a “ludicrous” actuality. 

“The individuals who reached out [to CBC] have been youthful, ready and so they have been really financially managing in a manner that allowed them to reside by way of that month by month,” she stated. 

Authorities must be assuming you’re alive until there’s proof on the contrary. It looks like a primary factor to ask for.– Laura Tamblyn Watts

“Many older individuals wouldn’t be in such a privileged place … frankly, we’re going to see individuals fall by way of the cracks.”

The people who find themselves probably the most weak, she stated, are least capable of correctly monitor their funds or advocate for themselves.

The actual fact these seniors spent weeks making an attempt to unravel their conditions must also be a “wake-up name” for an “antiquated” and “labyrinthine” system, stated Tamblyn Watts. 

“On the entire, authorities must be assuming you’re alive until there’s proof on the contrary. It looks like a primary factor to ask for.” 

A blonde woman in a red and black jacket looks directly at the camera.
Laura Tamblyn Watts is the CEO of CanAge, Canada’s Nationwide Seniors’ Advocacy Group. (Laura Tamblyn Watts/CanAge)

ESDC instructed CBC in an e mail its precedence is guaranteeing that each one seniors obtain the “proper advantages on the proper time” and it takes measures to make sure funds are being made to the suitable individual. 

It went on to say that “in instances the place advantages have to be preventively suspended, purchasers are knowledgeable.”

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