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DISCRIMINATION - Mental or physical disability - Government benefits and services

Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 8:39 AM  

Appeal by King, the complainant, from a judicial review decision quashing a Human Rights Panel finding of discrimination related to the services available to the public on the ground of disability. A Human Rights Panel had determined that the Government of Prince Edward Island’s Disability Support Program (DSP) discriminated against persons who were disabled as a result of mental illness. The Panel found that the exclusion of the complainant from applying for and receiving adult disability services and benefits under the program amounted to discrimination. The Government had been ordered to cease the discrimination. The Government applied for judicial review and the Panel’s decision was quashed for being unreasonable and remitted back to a Panel for further consideration. The complainant appealed the order that allowed judicial review. The complainant argued the judge made errors of law in, among other things, failing to apply appropriate deference to the Panel’s conclusions and findings and making findings of fact that had no basis or support in the evidence.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The order on judicial review was set aside and the Panel decision was left intact. The Panel’s analysis was in accordance with the law and was set out in clear language. The Panel identified the DSP’s purpose and function and found the standard in question, excluding those who were disabled by way of mental disability, was not rationally connected to that goal. Its finding was also evidence-based. The Panel found the Government failed to provide evidence that the DSP could not accommodate persons who were disabled by way of mental illness without incurring undue hardship, and that the Government did not satisfy its burden to show there was a reasonable explanation for exclusion of that group. The Panel’s finding was not perfunctory and was the product of a full analysis. The Panel’s finding of fact were a reasonable application of the correct legal principles of discrimination to the relevant evidence.

Prince Edward Island (Minister of Family and Human Services) v. Prince Edward Island (Human Rights Commission), [2018] P.E.I.J. No. 5, Prince Edward Island Court of Appeal, D.H. Jenkins C.J.P.E.I., M.M. Murphy and J.K. Mitchell JJ.A., February 21, 2018. Digest No. TLD-Mar122018011