Focus On

DIVISION OF POWERS - Federal jurisdiction - Aboriginals and reserves

Wednesday, May 13, 2020 @ 9:32 AM  

Lexis Advance® Quicklaw®
Appeal by the Attorney General from a Federal Court decision allowing the respondents’ application for judicial review of a decision of the federal Superintendent of Financial Institutions determining that the respondents’ pension plans were provincially regulated. The respondents provided health-care services to First Nations. Key to the Federal Court’s decision were Treaties which contained promises made by the Crown regarding health care for Indigenous peoples.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The function of the respondents’ undertakings was to provide health care, a provincially regulated matter. The pension rights and obligations concerning those undertakings were also provincially regulated. While the Treaties obligated the Crown to provide health care, they had no bearing on the function of the health-care undertakings themselves, which remained provincially regulated. The legislative authority to regulate health-care undertakings lay with the province. The labour relations of employees in provincial undertakings, including their pensions, were presumptively subject to provincial regulation. The Federal Court erred by concentrating on the terms of the Treaties, the importance and solemnity of the Treaties, and s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which recognized and affirmed treaty rights. By doing that, the Federal Court diverted itself from the task to engage in a functional examination of the nature, operations and habitual activities of the respondents’ undertakings as going concerns without regard for exceptional or casual factors. This was an error of law. The provision of federal funding by itself did not convert an otherwise provincial undertaking into a federal one. The Treaties did not have the legal relevance or materiality that the Federal Court attached to them in this case.

Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General), [2020] F.C.J. No. 353, Federal Court of Appeal, D.W. Stratas, Y. de Montigny and J.B. Laskin JJ.A., March 17, 2020. Digest No. TLD-May112020006