Administrative law – Workers compensation – Benefits – Worker – Definition – Director of corporation – Interpretation of legislation – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Workers Compensation Boards – Appeals – Judicial review – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter
Alberta (Workers’ Compensation Board) v. Alberta (Workers’ Compensation Board, Appeals Commission),  A.J. No. 894, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, July 14, 2005, Topolniski J.
K.M. was a logger killed by a falling tree while he was working for his employer, T. Corporation. His widow was initially denied benefits by the Workers’ Compensation Board and its Assessment Review Board. T. Co. and Mrs. M successfully appealed that decision to the Appeals Commission (the “AC”) which determined that, although K.M. was a director of T. Co. at the time of the accident, he was engaged in the activities of a “worker”. Therefore he was covered, and his widow was entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Workers’ Compensation Board appealed that decision.
The court held that the appropriate standard of review was that of reasonableness simpliciter.
The court noted that the Act stipulated that an individual would be deemed to be a worker when they performed work in an included industry, subject to various exceptions. The relevant exception in this case was that an individual would not come within the deeming provision if he was:
- a director of a corporation,
- performing work for the principal (any other person engaged in an industry to which the Act applies), and
- performing the work in his capacity as a director of the corporation.
The court noted that the essence of the exception, whether the individual was performing work for the corporation in which he was a director, or for some other corporation, was that he was performing in his “capacity as a director”. The court held that the AC’s conclusion that K.M. was not performing duties in his capacity as a director (and therefore did not come within the exception) was a reasonable conclusion. Its interpretation that the Act contemplated that a director may wear “two hats” stood up to a somewhat probing examination and its application of the legislation to the facts was supported by a tenable explanation. The AC’s decision was therefore confirmed and the appeal dismissed.
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