Reductions in income assistance would cause harm to recipients

Federal appeal | Injunctions

INTERLOCUTORY RELIEF

Reductions in income assistance would cause harm to recipients

This was appeal of judge’s decision granting interlocutory injunction. Canada had provided essential services and programs to Indians residing on reserves. It decided to do away with reasonably comparable approach for income assistance program. There was now requirement of strict compliance with provincial eligibility criteria and assistance rates. Respondents took exception to change and sought relief by bringing application for judicial review. Respondents then applied for interim relief in form of order restraining Canada from changing reasonably comparable approach until final disposition of judicial review application. Injunction was granted that prohibited implementation of rule of strict compliance with provincial rates and standards for income assistance on First Nations reserves in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island until decision was issued in underlying application for judicial review. Appeal dismissed. Deference was owed to judge’s decision. It had not been shown that judge proceeded on wrong principle of law, gave insufficient weight to relevant factors, and seriously misapprehended facts or that obvious injustice would otherwise result. In context of evolving law related to aboriginal consultation it was not unreasonable to suggest that there might be duty to hold meaningful consultation about merits of changing approach prior to its implementation. Judge did not err in finding respondents met low threshold of establishing serious issue to be tried. It was reasonable for judge to draw inference that reductions in income assistance would cause harm to individual recipients who could not be compensated through subsequent monetary award. Small changes in resources available to poor and vulnerable Canadians to meet basic essential needs could result in serious harm. Effect of order was to maintain status quo. Judge committed no error in finding that harm resulting from reduction in benefits to vulnerable individual recipients outweighed minor inconvenience Canada might suffer from delay in implementing changes.
Simon v. Canada (Attorney General) (Nov. 28, 2012, F.C.A., Marc Noël J.A., Robert M. Mainville J.A., and Wymann W. Webb J.A., File No. A-110-12) Decision at 216 A.C.W.S. (3d) 740 was affirmed. 225 A.C.W.S. (3d) 211.

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