Administrative law – Workers compensation – Benefits – Stress claims – Test – Privative clauses – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Workers Compensation Boards – Judicial review application – Quasi-judicial tribunals – Appeal process – Judicial review – Standard of review – Patent unreasonableness
Taylor v. Workers’ Compensation Board,  S.J. No. 224, Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench, March 29, 2004, R.S. Smith J.
In January 1999, Staff Sergeant Marvin Taylor tendered his resignation to the Regina Police Service as a result of his toxic relationship with the superior to whom he reported. Three years later Mr. Taylor submitted a claim to the Workers’ Compensation Board on the grounds that he had left his employment due to stress. The claim was denied by the claims entitlement specialist. Mr. Taylor launched an appeal of the decision denying the claim. The Appeals Committee concluded that compensation for stress claims should be reserved for situations where work stress is excessive and unusual. Stress produced by industrial relations does not provide a basis for acceptance. Following the second denial of his claim, Mr. Taylor arranged an oral hearing before a quasi-judicial panel of the WCB in January of 2004. The Board members reviewed the issues and concluded that the case was one of industrial relations, which is excluded under the Workers Compensation Act 1979, S.S. 1979, c. W-17.1 (the “Act”).
After exhausting his final remedy with the WCB, Mr. Taylor appealed to the Court of Queen’s Bench. At the judicial review, the record included Mr. Taylor’s original application and the final WCB decision. The court held that while only the final decision was reviewable, since the decisions of the claims entitlement specialist and the Appeals Committee were considered by the WCB in discharging its quasi-judicial obligation, these decisions could be considered by the court.
With respect to the standard of review, the court noted that the privative clause in the Act indicated that the Board had exclusive jurisdiction to examine and hear all the matters and questions arising under the Act and that decisions on questions of fact and law were final and conclusive. The standard of review was patent unreasonableness, and the only way to overturn the WCB decision was if it lacked the badges of reason and rationality. The court held that the issue faced by the WCB was a difficult one and the record did not reflect that the WCB addressed the issue with irrationality or the absence of good sense. The court held that Mr. Taylor did not meet the onus of demonstrating that the decision of the WCB was patently unreasonable and the application for judicial review was dismissed.
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