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Two cases heard by Supreme Court Dec. 9, Judgments reserved

SUPREME COURT OF CANADA - APPEALS HEARD

OTTAWA, 9/12/02. THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA ANNOUNCED TODAY THAT THE FOLLOWING APPEALS WERE HEARD ON DECEMBER 9, 2002.

SOURCE: SUPREME COURT OF CANADA (613) 995-4330

COUR SUPRÊME DU CANADA - APPELS ENTENDUS

OTTAWA, 9/12/02. LA COUR SUPRÊME DU CANADA A ANNONCÉ AUJOURD'HUI QUE LES APPELS SUIVANTS ONT ÉTÉ ENTENDUS LE 9 DÉCEMBRE 2002.

SOURCE: COUR SUPRÊME DU CANADA (613) 995-4330

COMMENTS/COMMENTAIRES: comments@scc-csc.gc.ca

1. RUTH A. LASEUR v. WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD OF NOVA SCOTIA, ET AL. (N.S.) (Civil) (By Leave) (28370)

RESERVED / EN DÉLIBÉRÉ

2. DONALD MARTIN v. WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD OF NOVA SCOTIA, ET AL. (N.S.) (Civil) (By Leave) (28372)

RESERVED / EN DÉLIBÉRÉ

 

28370 Ruth A. Laseur v. Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia et al

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Administrative Tribunals - Authority to apply the Charter - Equality Rights - Workers' Compensation - Whether the Worker's Compensation Appeals Tribunal of Nova Scotia has the authority to refuse on Charter grounds to apply benefits provisions of its enabling statute - Whether the chronic pain provisions of the Worker's Compensation Act, S.N.S. 1994-95, c.10, and the Functional Restoration (Multi-Faceted Pain Services) Program Regulations, N.S. Reg.57/96 infringe the equality rights guaranteed under section 15(1) of the Charter - If they do, whether such infringement can be justified pursuant to s. 1 of the Charter.

The Appellant, Ruth Laseur, was employed as a bus driver in Nova Scotia. On November 13, 1987, she climbed up onto the front bumper of her bus in order to clean the windshield. She fell and reported bruising her right hand and wrenching her back. The accident was reported to the Workers' Compensation Board (the "Board"). She returned to work after ten days. With occasional days off due to back pain, she worked until February 16, 1988. From February 16 to May 1, 1988, she received temporary total disability benefits. She returned to work for a month and then again received compensation from June 13 to August 8, 1988. She returned to work again in August for several months with days off due to back pain as well as a hospital admission for a myelogram in November. In March, 1989, she again stopped working and received compensation from March 16 to April 13 and May 29 through July 24, 1989. The benefits were then extended to October 30 but terminated as of that date. The Appellant continued to pursue her workers' compensation claim and returned to work part time on February 23, 1990. The Appellant worked part-time until April 10, 1990, when her employer required her to return to full-time hours. This aggravated her back pain. She stopped work on April 18 and returned to work on a part-time basis until July 30. Subsequently, her family doctor ordered her to stop working again.

In October of 1990, the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (as it then was called), awarded the Appellant temporary total disability benefits for the periods of October 31, 1989 to February 22, 1990 and from April 18, 1990 to July 2, 1990, 50% temporary partial disability benefits from February 23 to April 10, 1990 and July 3 to July 30, 1990 and temporary total disability payments from August 1 until an assessment could be carried out for a permanent partial disability. The Appellant attended for an estimation of her permanent medical impairment (PMI) on January 17, 1991. A permanent partial disability award was denied.

The Appellant continued to seek permanent partial disability benefits retroactive to January 1991. On August 12, 1994, the Board rejected her claim, stating that "...she probably has a full blown chronic pain syndrome, which is a non-compensable condition and is well known to be virtually totally related to psychosocial factors." The Appellant appealed to a Hearing Officer and then to the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal (the "WCAT"). She raised a Charter argument challenging s. 10B of the Workers' Compensation Act, S.N.S. 1994-95, c. 10. The WCAT allowed the appeal in part, but held that the Appellant was not entitled to either a permanent impairment benefit or to vocational rehabilitation benefits. The Board appealed the WCAT's Charter decisions and the Appellant cross-appealed, challenging the "zero-rating" for her permanent impairment. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal allowed the Board's appeal and dismissed the Appellant's cross-appeal.

Origin of the case: Nova Scotia

File No.: 28370

Judgment of the Court of Appeal: November 8, 2000

Counsel: Anne S. Clark/Kenny LeBlanc/Anne Derrick for the Appellant

Brian A. Crane/David P.S. Farrar/Janet E. Curry for the Respondent Workers' Compensation Board

John P. Merrick/Louanne Labelle/Janet M. Stevenson for the Respondent Nova Scotia WCAT