Ted's Blog


SCC rules the protection against cruel and unusual treatment or punishment under s. 12 of the Charter for humans, not corporations.

A corporation was found guilty of carrying out construction work as a contractor without holding a current license for that purpose, an offence under s. 46 of Quebec’s Building Act. Pursuant to s. 197.1 of that Act, the penalty for an offence under s. 46 is a mandatory minimum fine which varies depending on whether the offender is an individual or a corporation. Applying this provision, the Court of Québec imposed the then minimum fine for corporations of $30,843. The corporation challenged the constitutionality of the mandatory minimum fine on the basis that it offended its right to be protected against cruel and unusual treatment or punishment under s. 12 of the Charter . The Court of Québec dismissed the challenge, concluding that expanding the protection of rights intrinsically linked to individuals to include corporate rights would trivialize the protection granted by s. 12 . On appeal by the corporation, the Quebec Superior Court similarly held that corporations were not covered by s. 12 , as the provision’s purpose was the protection of human dignity, a notion meant exclusively for natural persons. A majority at the Quebec Court of Appeal, however, allowed the corporation’s appeal, concluding that since corporations could face cruel treatment or punishment through harsh or severe fines, s. 12 could apply to them. The dissenting judge was of the view that s. 12 does not apply to corporations."

The SCC (with two separate sets of concurring reasons)
allowed the appeal and set aside the Court of Appeal judgment. Read More...

SCC rules RCMP pension plan breaches s. 15 of the Charter re women job-sharing.

"The claimants are three retired members of the RCMP who took maternity leave in the early‑to‑mid 1990s. Upon returning to full‑time service, they experienced difficulties combining their work obligations with their childcare responsibilities. At the time, the RCMP did not permit regular members to work part‑time. In December 1997, the RCMP introduced a job‑sharing program in which members could split the duties and responsibilities of one full‑time position. The three claimants enrolled in the job‑sharing program; they and most of the other RCMP members who job‑shared were women with children. Pursuant to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act , and the associated Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Regulations (“pension plan”), RCMP members can treat certain gaps in full‑time service, such as leave without pay, as fully pensionable. The claimants expected that job‑sharing would be eligible for full pension credits. However, they were later informed that they would not be able to purchase full‑time pension credit for their job‑sharing service.

The claimants initiated an application arguing that the pension consequences of job‑sharing have a discriminatory impact on women contrary to s. 15(1) of the Charter . Their claim failed at the Federal Court. The application judge found that job‑sharing is part‑time work for which participants cannot obtain full‑time pension credit and that this outcome did not violate s. 15(1) . The application judge held that there was insufficient evidence that job‑sharing was disadvantageous compared to leave without pay. The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the claimants’ appeal."

The SCC (6:3, two judges writing joint dissenting reasons, one judge writing separate reasons)
allowed the appeal.