04/26/2015 12:26 EDT | Updated 06/26/2015 05:59 EDT

Social Security Tribunal Backlog Still Looms Large As Summer Deadline Approaches

OTTAWA - A federal quick-response team set up to tackle the massive backlog of cases plaguing the social security tribunal doesn't appear to be moving all that quickly.

In reply to a written question from the NDP, the employment minister's office says that as of March 20, the so-called "spike unit" had reviewed fewer than 3,000 appeals from Canadians seeking social security disability payments.

The New Democrats call that troubling, considering that there was a backlog of roughly 11,000 cases slated for review last fall.

Former employment minister Jason Kenney, now the defence minister, established the 50-member spike unit in December and said at the time he expected the backlog to be eliminated by the end of the summer.

Of the 2,948 appeal files reviewed so far, the government says 946 settlements have been offered to sick or injured Canadians who were previously denied CPP disability benefits, and 428 people accepted the offers.

The backlog started growing after the federal government launched the social security tribunal in April 2013 with a goal of streamlining the appeals process and saving Canadian taxpayers $25 million a year.

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