On December 20, 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered a significant decision interpreting the scope of federally regulated employers’ health and safety inspection obligations under the Canada Labour Code. The Supreme Court overturned the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision in Canada Post v. Canadian Union of Postal Workers and held that an employer’s work place inspection obligation only extends to locations over which it has physical control.
Due to the potential impact of the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision for all employers under the Canada Labour Code—especially those federal employers whose employees work outside traditional offices or industrial facilities —it was important to ensure that employers’ concerns would be heard. Our team worked to quickly bring together several intervenors before the Supreme Court of Canada, including the Maritime Employer Association (MEA), the British Columbia Maritime Employer Association (BCMEA) and the Halifax Employer Association (HEA), Rogers Communications Inc. and FETCO Inc. (Federally Regulated Employers – Transportation and Communications), the main association of federally regulated employers.
The SCC decision was an important outcome for all federally regulated employers, many of which are Fasken clients. If the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal had not been overturned, federally regulated employers would have had a statutory obligation to inspect every location where their employees work, regardless of whether they control the physical space.
Lawyers from Fasken’s Toronto and Montreal offices appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada on behalf of three of the intervenors supporting Canada Post: Christopher Pigott and Rachel Younan for FETCO Inc. (Federally Regulated Employers – Transportation and Communications); Stéphane Fillion for the Maritime Employers Association, Halifax Employers Association and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association; and Brian Smeenk for Rogers Communications Inc.. Sophie Arseneault of Fasken’s Ottawa office acted as Agent for all intervenors.