S. A. v. Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation
(B.C.) (Civil) (By Leave)
Contracts - Interpretation, Breach, Trusts - Contracts - Interpretation - Breach - Trusts - Whether the assets held in a discretionary trust are the assets of a trust beneficiary when determining entitlement to social assistance benefits under the respondent’s Asset Ceiling Policy.
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The appellant is a 56 year old woman with disabilities and cannot work. She receives benefits pursuant to the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act, S.B.C. 2002, c. 41. She is the sole beneficiary of a discretionary trust set up through a variation of her deceased father’s will by court order dated 2012 (the “Trust”), of which she and her sister are co-trustees. The respondent (“MVHC”) operates non-profit subsidized housing facilities in Vancouver, including the place where the appellant has resided since 1992. In addition to providing affordable housing, MVHC has an additional rental assistance program. Due to its policy of precluding subsidized rent to persons with assets greater than $25,000, MVHC demanded the appellant provide information about the Trust, including the amount held in trust. When she refused, she was informed that her subsidized rent would end. She has paid the rent differential under protest.
The appellant brought a petition for a declaration that the Trust is not an asset for the purposes of determining her subsidized rent, and for reimbursement of the additional amount she has paid. MVHC brought a petition seeking declarations that the disclosure of financial information to qualify for subsidized rent requires the disclosure of beneficial interests in assets, including the Trust, and that MVHC is contractually entitled to that financial information. The British Columbia Supreme Court dismissed the appellant’s petition and allowed MVHC’s petition. The British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed the appeals.
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