Certain obligations only apply where employers have control over workplace

Labour and Employment Law – Occupational Health and Safety Legislation - Miscellaneous

Union was bargaining agent for employees including letter carriers working for employer, Canada Post (CP). CP declined union’s request that inspections of individual letter carrier routes be included as part of Workplace Hazard Prevention Program . Health and Safety Officer investigated complaint from union representative and found four contraventions of Canada Labour Code. CP’s appeal was allowed, and appeals officer varied decision . Union’s application for judicial review was dismissed. Union’s appeal was allowed. Appellate court found decision below was not reasonable and appeals officer's interpretation of s. 125(1)(z. 12) of Code was unreasonable as it constituted redrafting of relevant provision. Appellate court found appeals officer also unreasonably found that obligation found at s. 125(1)(z. 12) of Code could not be fulfilled without control of work place. Appellate court found s. 125(1) of Code is clear and unambiguous and provides that every employer shall fulfil relevant obligations set out in two circumstances, when employer controls work place, or when employer does not control work place but controls work activity. Appellate court found appeals officer's approach was clearly not open to him and constituted unreasonable interpretation. Appellate court found only reasonable interpretation open to appeals officer was that s. 125(1)(z. 12) of Code obligation had to be fulfilled, considering that it controlled activities of letter carriers in work place situated outside of employer's physical buildings. CP appealed. Appeal allowed. Determination met standard of reasonableness. It was reasonable for appeals officer to find that certain obligations only apply where employers have control over workplace and not merely control over workplace activity. Appeals officer's analysis followed rational and logical line of reasoning as he employed well-established principles of statutory interpretation, engaged with submissions and evidence before him, and drew on his knowledge of field when considering practical implications of his interpretation.

Canada Post Corp. v. Canadian Union of Postal Workers (2019), 2019 CarswellNat 7907, 2019 CarswellNat 7908, 2019 SCC 67, 2019 CSC 67, Wagner C.J.C., Abella J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Gascon J., Côté J., Brown J., Rowe J., and Martin J. (S.C.C.); reversed (2017), 2017 CarswellNat 3271, 2017 CarswellNat 9493, 2017 FCA 153, 2017 CAF 153, M. Nadon J.A., D.G. Near J.A., and Donald J. Rennie J.A. (F.C.A.).

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