The Petitioner applied under the Judicial Review Procedure Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c.241 for judicial review of a screening decision by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (“BCHRT”). The British Columbia Supreme Court (“BCSC”) applied the patent unreasonableness standard of review under sections 59(3) and 59(4) of the Administrative Tribunals Act, R.S.B.C. 2004, c. 45 (“ATA”). The BCSC held that there was no basis for concluding that the Chair of the BCHRT exercised her discretion arbitrarily or in bad faith, for an improper purpose, based on irrelevant factors, or that she failed to take statutory requirements into account. The petition was dismissed.
Administrative law – Human rights complaints – Discrimination – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Human Rights Tribunal – Judicial review – Mootness – Standard of review – Patent unreasonableness
L.M.A. v. British Columbia (Ministry of Child and Family Services),  B.C.J. No. 3274, British Columbia Supreme Court, December 20, 2006, Joyce J.
The Petitioner filed two complaints with the BCHRT. In the first complaint, the Petitioner complained against the Director of Children and Family Services, the Director of Child Welfare Regional Office, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of British Columbia as represented by the Ministry of Children and Families and Judge Lenaghan of the British Columbia Provincial Court. The Petitioner alleged discrimination in the area of services customarily available to the public based on race, place of origin, family status, physical disability and mental disability.
The Petitioner’s complaint against these parties arose from child protection proceedings involving her five and half month old baby. A temporary custody order was made in favour of the Director. The Petitioner alleged several facts in her first complaint, including that the Director of Children and Family Services discriminated against her based on her depression. The Case Manager at the BCHRT advised the Petitioner that she did not provide facts to support her complaint and that she could provide further facts or comments in support of the alleged discrimination. The Petitioner never provided further information. The BCHRT Chair decided not to accept the complaint because the facts set out in it did not support that she was discriminated against under the Code.
A year later, the Petitioner filed a second complaint. This time, the complaint was against Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of British Columbia as represented by the Ministry of Children and Family Services and the Attorney General. The substance of this complaint was that the Ministry discriminated against her because of her depression as a result of which she lost custody of her child. The Chair of the BCHRT advised the Petitioner that the second complaint was a resubmission of the first complaint, and that the facts set out in the complaint did not support her allegation of discrimination under the Code. The Chair therefore declined to accept the complaint.
Shortly after the BCHRT rejected the second complaint, the Petitioner filed her petition in which she sought an order quashing the decision of the BCHRT. The BCSC relied on Shilander v. BC Human Rights Tribunal, 2005 BCSC 728. The Court explained that the BCHRT’s screening decisions are discretionary in nature and the applicable standard of review is patent unreasonableness under the ATA. The Court agreed with the BCHRT that the Petitioner’s second complaint, in essence, was a resubmission of the first complaint; it was also unable to find any allegation of facts to support the Petitioner’s complaint. The BCSC held that there was no basis for concluding that the Chair of the BCHRT exercised her discretion arbitrarily or in bad faith, for an improper purpose, based on irrelevant factors, or that she failed to take statutory requirements into account. The petition was dismissed.
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