Eviction flaw fixed, Social Development official says
Department has resumed informing evicted tenants of right to appeal to ombudsman
The New Brunswick government says it has resumed telling people who get evicted from public housing they have the right to appeal the decision.
Deputy Minister of Social Development Edith Doucet says people are once again being advised of their rights.
"Certainly our housing clients are able to bring their situations to the attention of the ombudsman," Doucet told a committee of MLAs in Fredericton on Tuesday.
"That is the final review that is open to any citizen in the province who's not satisfied with a government action," she said.
The change comes just months after a Court of Queen's Bench judge overturned two eviction notices issued by the New Brunswick Housing Corporation because the Saint John tenants had not been told they could complain to the ombudsman.
Justice Peter Glennie cited sloppy investigations by the Department of Public Safety's Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) program, which allows investigators to evict people suspected of being engaged in criminal activities without convicting them of a crime.
But the judge also faulted the Department of Social Development, which runs public housing, noting it had stopped informing evicted tenants of their rights.
Liberal MLA Victor Boudreau says wrongful evictions could cause long-term problems for tenants.
"This has probably affected their likelihood of finding other housing. Hopefully not," he said.
Doucet said her department is told every time Public Safety officers evict people from public housing.
She said there have been 10 evictions to date under the SCAN program, including the two overturned by the judge in May.
Former public safety minister Robert Trevors had said in June he was confident the botched evictions were isolated incidents, but that an internal review of the SCAN program would be conducted.
It is unclear where the review stands. The Department of Public Safety was scheduled to appear at the public accounts committee on Tuesday, but ended up cancelling.