Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Automobile Injury Compensation Appeal Commission – Judicial review – Compliance with legislation – Interpretation of legislation – Fresh evidence – Mootness – Public interest – Standard of review – Correctness
Shier v. Manitoba Public Insurance Corp.,  M. J. No. 305, Manitoba Court of Appeal, September 8, 2008, M. A. Monnin, B.M. Hamilton and R.J.F. Chartier JJ.A.
The Respondent, Ms. Shier, was injured in a motor vehicle accident in 1996 and was entitled to receive income replacement indemnity (IRI) benefits under the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation Act (the “Act”). In 2006, a senior case manager reconsidered her entitlement because he reviewed her CPP file that he received in 2000. Based on the CPP file, the manager determined that the Respondent was not capable of holding employment in 1996 because of a pre-existing disability and not because of the accident. Therefore, he, on behalf of the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation (“MPIC”) terminated her IRI benefits.
The Respondent appealed the MPIC’s decision to the Automobile Injury Compensation Appeal Commission (the “Commission”). The Commission allowed her appeal and reinstated her benefits on four grounds. First, there was no new information that would, under section 171(1) of the Act, allow the MPIC to make a fresh decision about her entitlement. Second, if there was new information, the MPIC was not sufficiently diligent in obtaining this information earlier and, therefore, the MPIC could not rely on section 171(1) of the Act and consider the new information. Third, MPIC’s decision was untimely in light of the wording of section 171(2) of the Act. Fourth, the determination in 1996 was correct and, therefore, MPIC erred when it changed the determination in 2006.
The Commission argued that the fourth reason for allowing the Respondent’s appeal was not challenged on appeal to the Court of Appeal and, therefore, the appeal was moot. The Court of Appeal agreed with this submission but decided to address the issues raised by the appeal because it raised issues of public interest.
The Court of Appeal first noted that, before the decision in Dunsmuir, the established standard of review applicable to the Commission was correctness. The Commission and the Respondent both argued the standard should be reasonableness. In Dunsmuir, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that questions of law may be subject to the standard of reasonableness. The Court of Appeal applied the factors outlined in Dunsmuir and concluded that the standard of review was correctness. There was no strong privative clause, the Commission held expertise in the interpretation of the clauses at issue, the legal issues were not of importance to the legal system generally, and therefore less deference was owed to the Commission.
Considering the merits, the Commission erred in its interpretation of section 171(2) of the Act. On the other hand, the Commission did not err in interpreting section 171(1) of the Act and interpreting the phrase “new information”.
The appeal was moot and was dismissed.
This case was digested by Scott J. Marcinkow of Harper Grey LLP. If you would like to discuss this case further, please feel free to contact him directly at email@example.com or review his biography at http://www.harpergrey.com.
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