Supreme Court

Constitutional Law

Stevedoring not itself transportation activity that crosses provincial boundaries

Appellant, heavy equipment rental company, rented heavy equipment and engaged in intra-provincial road transportation. Some of its cranes used for stevedoring, an activity representing approximately 14% of overall revenue and 20% of employees’ salaries. Stevedoring employees fully integrated into workforce. All appellant’s activities took place within Quebec. Appellant sought declaration from Quebec’s Commission de la sante et de la securite du travail (“CSST”) that stevedoring activities fell under federal government’s shipping jurisdiction. CSST’s conclusion that activities came under provincial jurisdiction upheld by Commission de lesions professionnelles. Superior Court overturned that decision but Court of Appeal allowed appeal, agreeing that provincial regulation applied. Appeal to Supreme Court of Canada dismissed. Legislation respecting labour relations presumptively provincial. However, federal government has jurisdiction to regulate employment when employment relates to work, undertaking, or business within legislative authority of Parliament or when it is integral part of federally regulated undertaking, referred to as derivative jurisdiction. Determination made by assessing work’s essential operational nature. Section 91(10) of Constitution Act, 1867, confers exclusive legislative jurisdiction to Parliament over navigation and shipping. This jurisdiction not absolute, and must be read in light of s. 92(10) which divides legislative authority over transportation and communication works and undertakings based on territorial scope of activities. Stevedoring not itself transportation activity that crosses provincial boundaries and only subject to federal labour regulation if integral to federal undertaking in way that justifies imposing exceptional federal jurisdiction. Federal labour relation may be justified when services provided to federal undertaking form exclusive or principal part of related work’s activities or when services provided to federal undertaking performed by employees who form functionally discrete unit. Appellant’s stevedoring employees do not form discrete unit. Appellant devoted majority of efforts to non-shipping activities. While some shipping companies appellant serviced operated across provincial boundaries, appellant’s essential operational nature local and stevedoring activities, integrated with overall operations, formed relatively minor part of appellant’s overall operation. Nor was there evidence about whether appellant’s employees who occasionally performed stevedoring activities were integral to federal shipping undertakings.

Tessier ltee v. Commission de la sante et de la securite du travail

(May 17, 2012, S.C.C., McLachlin C.J.C., LeBel, Deschamps, Fish, Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell, Moldaver and Karakatsanis JJ., File No. 33935) Decision at 194 A.C.W.S. (3d) 634 was affirmed. 214 A.C.W.S. (3d) 425 (35 pp.).

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