When assessing WCB spousal survivorship pension entitlement, the Workers’ Compensation Board has jurisdiction to determine whether a person was an “employee” under the Government Employees Compensation Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. G-5 (the “GECA”)

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Workers Compensation Boards – Workers compensation – Benefits – Worker – definition – Judicial review – Jurisdiction – Compliance with legislation – Privative clauses – Standard of review – Correctness

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. v. Luo, [2007] B.C.J. No. 1478, British Columbia Supreme Court, July 4, 2007, Meiklem J.

An employee of the CBC, a federal corporation, died in a car accident. The employee’s wife made a claim for spousal survivor pension pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Act. Her entitlement to this pension was dependent upon her husband being an employee of the CBC. WCAT found that the deceased was an employee within the meaning of GECA and his spouse was therefore entitled to benefits. CBC challenged WCAT’s findings on the grounds that WCAT did not have jurisdiction to make such a determination.

The Court found that the appropriate standard of review to apply to the WCAT decision was the standard of correctness. The Court found the decision of WCAT correct and within its jurisdiction. The Court held that the most that could be inferred was that WCAT obviously thought interpreting the definition of “employee” in the GECA was within its adjudicative authority, which, in the Court’s view, was not a significant enough error to undermine the WCAT decision.

In the result, the petition was dismissed.

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