Federal Appeal

Public Law

Social programs

Employment insurance

Applicant retiring early to retain benefits not voluntarily leaving employment without just cause

Applicant’s employer gave notice of its intent to discontinue health and dental insurance benefits for new retirees and advised her that she had to retire by specified date to retain her retirement coverage. Applicant retired. Applicant’s application for employment insurance benefits was denied. Social Security Tribunal General Division (SST-GD) held that applicant voluntarily left her employment without just cause within meaning of ss. 29 and 30 of Employment Insurance Act. Applicant’s appeal was allowed by Social Security Tribunal Appeal Division (SST-AD). Crown applied for judicial review. Application dismissed. SST-AD’s decision was not unreasonable, as it fully explained basis for its determination that applicant’s need to maintain coverage for herself and husband provided just cause for retiring and that roll back of coverage was akin to significant modification in wages or salary. Result reached was not unjustified as there was reasonable basis for conclusion that SST-GD made reviewable error in failing to properly apply applicable test under ss. 29 or 30 of Act to applicant’s situation. Given multiple medications required by applicant and husband as well as their significant dental needs, conclusion was not unreasonable. SST-AD was not required to refer to cases cited by Crown as determination of just cause was largely fact-specific inquiry and SST-AD applied correct law. On facts of applicant’s case, result reached by SST-AD was not unreasonable.

Canada (Attorney General) v. Hong (2017), 2017 CarswellNat 718, 2017 FCA 46, Stratas J.A., Webb J.A., and Mary J.L. Gleason J.A. (F.C.A.).

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