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WORKERS' COMPENSATION - Legislation - Interpretation

Monday, March 09, 2020 @ 9:36 AM  


Application by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal for the court’s opinion on several issues, including its adjudicative jurisdiction, arising from recent amendments to the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission and Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal Act. The amendments in question provided that policies of the Commission were binding on the Appeals Tribunal and set out the procedure where the Appeals Tribunal considered a Commission policy patently unreasonable. The Appeals Tribunal was currently seized of four appeals in which a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) remedy was sought.

HELD: Application allowed. The amendments did not preclude the Appeals Tribunal from declining to enforce an unlawful or unconstitutional Commission policy. They did not preclude the Appeals Tribunal from granting declaratory relief under the Charter. The decisions and determinations by the Board of Directors became components of the Appeals Tribunal’s decision, order or ruling for the purposes of appeal under s. 21(12) of the Act. The referral back process did not apply to determinations of policy unlawfulness or unconstitutionality but only to determinations that a Commission policy was patently unreasonable from a substantive point of view. The Appeals Tribunal was not to be named as a respondent to an appeal under s. 21(12) of the Act. The Commission and any affected party could be identified as respondents. The Appeals Tribunal could seek intervener status on a case-by-case basis.

New Brunswick (Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission) v. New Brunswick (Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal), [2020] N.B.J. No. 20, New Brunswick Court of Appeal, J.C.M. Richard, J.E. Drapeau and K.A. Quigg JJ.A., January 30, 2020. Digest No. TLD-March92020001