Position Profile

Job Title:  Director, Appeals Secretariat

Work Unit:  

Ministry:  Alberta Community and Social Services

Competition Number:  1041830

Date:  April 2017
 

Position Summary

 

Reporting to the Executive Lead, Governance Services, the Director, Appeals Secretariat directs and oversees the integrated appeal operations and support provided by the Appeal Secretariat by ensuring individuals affected by a wide variety of decisions of the department have access to a fair, impartial, timely and independent review of the decisions under the following broad scope of legislation and related regulations:

  • Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped Act (AISH);
  • Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act (CYFE);
  • Child Care Licensing Act (CCL);
  • Income and Employment Supports Act (IES);
  • Family Support for Children with Disabilities Act (FSCD);
  • Person with Developmental Disabilities Services Act (PDD);
  • Seniors Benefit Act;
  • Support Living Accommodations Licensing Act (SLAL); as well as
  • Protection for Persons in Care Act (PPG).

The Secretariat also reviews decisions regarding additional benefits under the programs as supported by their related legislation for:

  • Special Needs Assistance for Seniors;
  • Alberta Aids to Daily Living;
  • Alberta Adult Health Benefit; and
  • Alberta Child Health Benefit.

The Director is responsible for two primary areas within the Appeal Secretariat: The appeal operations and appeal supports. The first is to ensure the applicable legislation is complied with in directing the operations of the appeal operations. The position provides leadership, advice and support to the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of Appeal Panels throughout the province in achieving their mandate and meeting legislated requirements. The position provides leadership, direction and guidance to staff in providing day-to-day support to Appeal Panels and with concerns related to policies and legislation is provided to resolve issues. The Director provides opportunities for integrated case management for appeals administration and provides strategic advice on the appeal process. This includes providing executive management with recommendations for strategic initiatives including potential legislation changes. The director also is responsible for providing programs areas with information around trends and issues of appeals that can influence program changes and policy.

The second is to provide supports both to the appeal panels and to the parties to appeal to ensure they have a fair process. Parties to appeal include program areas who denied an Albertan something and also the appellants appealing. The appellants are Alberta's most vulnerable citizens including children in care, disabled children and adults and seniors. The recruitment and appointment process of panel members is under the direction of this position, and the director is responsible for providing recommendations to senior executive for the Minister on panel members that have the prescribed competencies to give Albertans an opportunity to be heard. The Director's leadership and expertise regarding the functioning, performance of panels and panel members, increases understanding of and continually improves the quality of services provided to affected Albertans. In addition this position provides recommendations and supports for early dispute resolution, mediation and advisory services to continuously improve the communication with clients, and bridge disputes between clients and the department.

Specific Accountabilities

  1.

Provide direction for the development and delivery of effective strategies and processes to support quasi-judicial citizen appeal panels in achieving their mandate and meeting legislated requirements.

This includes:

  • Developing policies and practices for good governance and operational transparency.
  • Providing direction and guidance in balancing the knowledge, expertise and recruitment requirements with the responsibilities and needs of each appeal panel.
  • Facilitating panel chairs in identifying skill requirements of panel members.
  • Developing a transparent recruitment process and tools that align with the principles outlined in the Public Agencies Governance Framework.
  • Providing consultation and coaching to panel chairs to resolve member performance, process, scheduling and supporting resource requirements issues.
  • Providing guidance regarding administrative law/quasi-judicial processes and procedures.
  • Anticipating contentious appeals and providing the panels with the necessary resources (experts, legal advice, etc.) to effectively hear and provide a decision.
     
  2.

Direct, lead and oversee the development and ongoing assessment of appeal panel performance for continual process improvement and to provide understanding of duties, governance, and practices.

This is accomplished by:

  • Continually reviewing and analyzing statistical information/data regarding geographic distribution, types, complexity and number of hearings and Judicial Review decisions to recommend and implement efficient and effective processes.
  • Reviewing number and complexity of hearings and adjusting resources to ensure panels have the support necessary to complete their work.
  • Establish a regular survey/feedback mechanism for panel members to provide input regarding support provided; resources available and hearing processes for continual improvement.
  • Working with the Panel Chairs, to develop roles and responsibilities to support competency based recruitment.
  • Leading and facilitating the development of individual performance evaluation for use by panel chairs.
  • Analyzing and assessing performance of the appeal panels to provide a regular reporting mechanism to senior Ministry leaders and the Minister.
  • Proactively assessing documentation management and scheduling systems to ensure timely access to files, decisions and hearing schedules.
  • Provide ongoing executive reporting on appeal statistics and judicial reviews.
     
  3.

Lead the development and ongoing delivery of training programs to appeal panel members and Ministry/Inter-Ministerial staff to ensure understanding of processes and to ensure appeal panel members have the skills and knowledge to fulfill their mandates and accountabilities effectively.

This involves:

  • Fostering an open relationship with appeal panel members to address concerns and provide training and development to strengthen their knowledge and abilities.
  • Identifying the need to update and revise current training modules and orientation material.
  • Developing information sessions for Ministry/Inter-Ministerial staff to increase understanding of the appeal processes.
  • Identifying and analyzing appeal submission trends/topics relative to program areas.
  • Proactively facilitating information sessions with Ministry program areas to develop solutions and/or recommendations to mitigate issues resulting In appeal submissions.
     
  4.

Develop an open and transparent communication strategy and mechanism to ensure individuals affected by a decision(s) of a legislated director have access to a fair, impartial and independent review of that decision(s).

This includes:

  • Providing leadership and understanding to panel chairs and members regarding targets, indicators and measures required for review and reporting in annual reports of activities.
  • Providing the Chairs' recommendations regarding the renewal of appeal panel Vice-Chairs and members based on assessment of performance.
  • Continually work with Ministry/Inter-Ministerial staff to develop long-term communication and information solutions regarding repetitive appeals to improve program, benefit and legislative understanding by Albertans accessing benefits under the legislation and programs.
  • Continually reviewing the operations and functioning of the appeal panels to ensure alignment with Ministry and government priorities and objectives.
  • Overseeing as well as directly responding to the more complex and politically sensitive FOIP requests, Ombudsman investigations/requests for information and action requests from the Minister's office.
     
  5.

Provide effective mechanisms through collaboration with program delivery and the client for early dispute resolution prior to the processing of an appeal.

Activities:

  • Collaboration and effective negotiation with community agencies and department representatives is essential to developing strategies on early dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • Lead the development of an operational framework for the advisory office and for dispute resolution including initial setup, establishing relationships with different stakeholder groups, and dispute resolution processes and policies for all legislations with appealable benefits.
  • Provide advisory services for clients to understand the decision of the department and provide requirements for next steps making the process more client-centric.
  • Provide an alternative mechanism over appealing to ensure client appropriately understands the decision made by the department and requirements to change that decision.
  • Work with department representatives on opportunities to continuously improve the dispute resolution process from the decision of the department to the early dispute resolution to appeal.
     
  6.

Develops and maintains effective strategic relationships with Office of the Ombudsman, external Advocacy groups, external legal counsel, Panel Chairs, Co-Chairs, other ministries and Program delivery counterparts to support the legislated appeal process and contribute to the overall program outcomes of the Ministry.

Activities:

  • Participate in cross-ministry working groups on Continuous Improvement initiatives on program appeals.
  • Work with other Ministries that have Shared Service Agreement in place to hear their appeals.
  • Co-lead meetings with Panel Chairs and panel members on an ongoing basis.
  • Work with community based not for profit services and stakeholder partners to develop and support advisory services and maintain an ongoing relationship with these stakeholders.
  • Correspond with Ombudsman's office on an ongoing basis regarding practices and changes to processes as well as respond to ad-hoc Ombudsman requests on a regular basis and provide recommendations related to specific case inquiries.
  • Work with other ministries that have a process to appeal in order to develop best practices for the ministry.
     
  7.

Provide leadership in developing a working environment that enables staff to reach their full potential.

Activities:

  • Develop capacity within the appeal secretariat for knowledge management of functions and practices and support an environment for continuous learning.
  • Working with staff on a daily basis to provide a positive working environment of respect, integrity, accountability end excellence.
  • Provide ongoing feedback and manage the performance of direct reports and support the performance management process for the full team.
  • Ensuring the safety of staff and panel members through establishment and regular practice of a security protocol and completion of incident reports when required.
  • Lead the recruitment and development of staff within the Appeal Secretariat.

Knowledge / Experience

 

The position requires a university degree in business administration, social sciences, law or related field combined with a minimum of 7 years of progressively responsible work, including prior management experience, in a human services organization and/or with quasi-judicial appeal panels/agencies/committees.

The position requires sound knowledge and understanding of:

  • Government and Ministries' strategic priorities, accountability processes, programs, and extensive legislation related to Appeals Secretariat appeal panels.
  • GoA and Ministry decision-making processes and related acts (e.g. Government Accountability Act, Financial Administration Act, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Public Agencies Governance Framework, Interpretation Act, Administrative Procedures Act, etc.).
  • Experience working with an understanding of government legislation and the approval process required for policy coordination.
  • Quasi-judicial processes and associated responsibilities for appeal processes.
  • Natural Principals of Administrative Justice.
  • Strategic business and operational planning methodologies, practices and techniques.
  • Performance measurement and reporting methodologies, principles and techniques.
  • Political environment within which the Ministries and the Appeals Secretariat operate.
  • Client, partner and stakeholder community affected by the Ministry and the hearings and decisions of the appeal panels supported by the Appeals Secretariat.
  • Applied research methodologies, statistical analysis, and data management.
  • Community and other government perspectives on key issues around principles of natural justice and appeals.

The position requires the following skills and abilities:

  • Ability to build productive relationships within Ministry, across-GoA and with other stakeholders.
  • Ability to lead and manage a variety of internal and external processes and projects.
  • Ability to analyze complex issues, identify options or courses of action to address the issues, set priorities and carry out the work efficiently and effectively.
  • Ability to interpret and apply Ministry, GoA and ABC legislation and policy.
  • Ability to synthesize findings into valid and credible recommendations.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with a variety of internal and external stakeholders with varying levels of understanding and experience with appeal panels.
  • Excellent project, time and organizational management skills to effectively balance multiple demands and timelines.

Strategic and systems thinking skills:

  • Superior communication skills (written, verbal and presentation), including the ability to clearly convey ideas and the ability to actively listen to others.
  • Strong negotiation and facilitation skills to build consensus and influence.
  • Strong analytical skills.
  • Leadership and coaching skills to motivate and direct staff and provide guidance and advice to appeal panel members and the public.
  • Sound program and project planning and management skills to ensure appropriate governance and reporting structures and mechanisms are in place.

Leadership and Business Know-How

 

The Director requires well developed and demonstrated leadership, integration and organizational skills as indicated below:

  • Ability to provide direction and decisions for complex and contentious issues.
  • Ability to lead a large and diverse workforce located throughout the province and provide clear advice.
  • Ability to lead, mentor and guide direct report staff; including two Managers and support staff.
  • Key leadership role to inspire, encourage and model skills for Managers who are responsible for their key areas.
  • Conceptualizing, and analyzing information and risks to make decisions in alignment with Ministries' and Government strategic priorities and business goals.
  • Consultation, negotiation, facilitation and conflict resolution in working with appellants with varying levels of understanding and often conflicting perspective, interests, expectation and priorities.
  • Foresee future trends and work to develop strategies to meet future challenges by identifying opportunities for innovation, potential for cooperation and developing creative solutions to complex issues.
  • Facilitating, building consensus and working cooperatively with Ministry/Inter-Ministerial staff and stakeholders to build support and commitment for change and the development of mutually beneficial plans and activities.
  • Developing and maintaining strong relationships and alliances within the Ministry and with panel chairs, vice-chairs and members to resolve a wide range of issues to achieve effective outcomes.
  • Promoting innovation, building consensus, motivating others to adopt new concepts and strive for continual improvement.
  • Recognizing and leveraging opportunities to strengthen relationships to promote effective processes and decision-making.
  • Conceptualizing and analyzing information and risks to provide recommendations for the development and implementation of changes to improve processes and functioning of the appeal panels.
  • Leading the Appeals Secretariat in determining goals, objectives and priorities including managing workloads demands and budget.
  • Leading the timely communications and status updates to senior management.

Problem Solving

 

The position must balance the arms-length nature of the external Appeal Panels and providing support to the processes and functioning of the panels made up of members of the public from throughout the province before, during and after the hearings.

Examples of challenging situations faced by the position are:

  • All situations that arise from clients are unstructured and variable. Assessing the circumstances and requirements on a case-by-case basis to determine what information can be shared with Ministry/Inter-Ministerial staff, how to manage Ministries' interests and advice and guidance given to the panels.
  • Problem solving will require the development of strategies for utilizing multiple processes and understanding legislative impact. This position will need to develop strategies that motivate and inspire action on the part of staff, panel members, community and Vulnerable Albertans.
  • Providing recommendations to panel Chairs regarding addressing performance of individual Vice-Chairs and panel members.
  • Balancing the skill and knowledge competencies required by the appeal panels with available appeal panel applicants.
  • Negotiating and diplomatically managing requests for information by MLAs, Ministers, and interested parties as well as appointment of panel members.
  • Ensuring a transparent, non-partisan and competency-based recruitment process for appeal panel members while managing numerous politically sensitivities around appointments and the appointment process.
  • Anticipating/determining the need for legal support for appeal panels.

Relationships / Contacts

Clients Frequency Nature and Purpose of Contact
Cross-Ministry

Health, Seniors, Students Finance, Justice and Solicitor General

Regular/as required

  • Delivery of appeals via Shared Service Agreements.
Internal

Minister, Deputy Minister, Assistant Deputy Minister, Executive Lead, Ministry Leaders/Staff

Regular/as required
  • Provide information, briefings, recommendations.

Appeal Panel Chairs

Ongoing
  • Provide leadership and support regarding operation/legislated mandates, expectations, performance assessments, process improvements, training.

Appeal Panels

Ongoing
  • Providing expert advice and leadership in ensuring delivery of a fair and unbiased appeal mechanism.
  • Providing understanding of expectations, performance targets.
  • Providing ongoing training.
  • Providing mechanism for feedback on support provided and processes.
External

Office of the Ombudsman

Ongoing/as required
  • Communicate updates on processes, share newsletter in addition to responding to requests for information including investigations regarding appeal panel processes and functioning.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Commission As required
  • Responding to FOIP requests.
External Legal Counsel Ongoing
  • Legal advice and training they provide for panels and Appeal Secretariat staff.
Advocacy groups/Not for Profit groups Ongoing
  • Coordination of supports for appellants.
General Public Ongoing
  • Responding to client inquiries on appeals.

Impact and Magnitude of Job (Scope)

 
  • Within a broad direction, the Director works independently and autonomously in directing the management and support provided to the appeal panels. The work is unique and is reviewed on a case-by-case basis as the majority of issues rarely have precedents to follow. Decisions made by the position can impact the External Ministers, Minister, senior management team, parties to the appeal, services and program providers and recipients. It also has potential impact on legalization.
  • Decisions of the panels may be scrutinized by the Court of Queen's Bench or by a judicial review. The review assesses panel processes, including transparency of information, panel training, guidance, support and advice provided, etc. all of which are designed and implemented by the Appeals Secretariat.
  • Data/information analysis and recommendations Influence the delivery and application of the legislation, program parameters and operation of panels (e.g. number and location of panels and hearings).
  • Through advice, guidance and consultation, the position Impacts Alberta's most vulnerable citizens including adults who have physical/ psychological and/or developmental disabilities, are immigrants or learners, seniors, parents, children and youth receiving services and appealing a decision, parties to the appeal (e.g. designated Directors, Regional CEOs, Delegated First Nations Agencies, Child and Youth Advocates, legal representation, Children and Youth Office, Justice lawyers, support persons and witnesses, etc.).

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