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Labour Law - Collective agreements - Provisions - Interpretation - Particular words - Public service

Thursday, July 07, 2016 @ 8:00 PM  

Application by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for judicial review of a grievance decision in favour of the respondents, Clough, Robson and Leung. Prior to employment with the CRA, the respondents worked as auditors in the British Columbia public service. In 2010, they were transferred to the CRA in conjunction with the plan to implement a harmonized sales tax in the province. The tax plan was abandoned following a 2011 referendum. The respondents availed themselves of the option of remaining employed with the CRA. In 2012, a new collective agreement capped the accrual of severance pay entitlements upon retirement or resignation to amounts accrued to the new agreement’s effective date. Employees were provided with an option to elect immediate payment of accrued severance pay with reference to the number of years of continuous employment in the public service, as defined in the Public Service Superannuation Act. The grievors claimed entitlement to recognition of their years of British Columbia public service in calculating their severance. An adjudicator of the Public Service Labour Relations Board upheld the grievances. The CRA sought judicial review.

HELD: Application dismissed. The adjudicator did not err in relying upon extrinsic evidence to interpret the phrase “continuous employment” in the collective agreement. Nor did the adjudicator err in finding the evidence supported an interpretation that included the grievors’ service in the British Columbia public service. The concept of “continuous employment” was ambiguous on its face. The extrinsic evidence indicated that transferring employees’ entitlements to service-related benefits would be based on their total years of service with both the British Columbia public service and the CRA. The approach taken by the adjudicator was not unreasonable.