The Appellant Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners successfully appealed the Labour Relations Board’s decision to assert jurisdiction over a matter more properly within the jurisdiction established by The Police Act, 1990, ch. P-15-01, S.S. 1990-91, given its essential nature as a disciplinary issue and not an employment issue

24. November 2009 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Labour and employment boards – Police Commission – Labour law – Collective agreements – Jurisdiction of labour arbitrator to hear disciplinary grievances – Judicial review – Compliance with legislation – Jurisdiction of tribunal

Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners v. Saskatoon Police Association, [2009] S.J. No. 570, 2009 SKQB 291, Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench, July 9, 2009, T.J. Keene J.

A constable of the Saskatoon Police Service was charged with breaching internal rules. Pursuant to provisions of The Police Act, S.S. 1990-91, ch. P-15-01, a hearing was convened before a hearing officer to inquire into the charges. The constable entered into negotiations with her employer, the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners, and ultimately resigned as a result of those negotiations. The Saskatoon Police Association, the certified bargaining agent for all members of the City of Saskatoon Police Department, brought an unfair labour practice application before the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board because it was not involved in the negotiations. The Employer objected to the Labour Relations Board’s jurisdiction to hear the application, on the grounds that the issue was a disciplinary matter and did not arise from the collective agreement.

The Labour Relations Board held that it had jurisdiction to hear the application, on the grounds that the Employer did not provide any factual support for its contention that the essential nature of the dispute was disciplinary. The Employer appealed this decision.

On appeal, the Saskatchewan Queen’s Bench followed the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Regina Police Assn. Inc. v. Regina (City) Board of Commissioners, 2000 SCC 14. That decision conclusively decided that where a matter is in its “essential character” disciplinary, as opposed to an employment issue emerging from a collective agreement, the matter is exclusively within the jurisdiction of The Police Act and not within the jurisdiction of The Trade Union Act, R.S.S. 1978, ch. T-17. The Supreme Court of Canada further held in that decision that informal resolution of a disciplinary matter does not change the essential character of the dispute from a disciplinary matter to an employment matter.

Emphasizing the similarities between this case and Regina Police Assn, supra, the Queen’s Bench held that the essential character of the negotiated settlement with the employee, conducted pursuant to provisions of The Police Act, was of a disciplinary nature and not within the jurisdiction of the Labour Relations Board.

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