Human Rights Win for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Posted by Johannes Schenk on October 11th, 2006 — Posted in Human Rights Law

The Canadian Association Of The Deaf, James Roots, Gary Milkowski, Barbara Lagrange and Marie Lou Cassie and Her Majesty The Queen, 2006 FC 971, a recent decision of the Federal Court of Canada deals with deaf and hard of hearing rights in Canada.

The case holds that the Federal Government’s failure to provide interpretive sign language services to allow hearing impaired individuals access to government services was a section 15 Charter breach. Justice Mosley ordered that:

THIS COURT HEREBY ORDERS AND ADJUDGES that:

1. Professional sign language interpretation services are to be provided and paid for by the Government of Canada, upon request, where a deaf or hard of hearing person receives services from or participates in programs administered by the Government of Canada and the nature of communication between the government and the person requires such services;

2. Where the Government of Canada engages in public or private consultations with non-governmental organizations in the development of policy and programs in which the deaf and hard of hearing Canadians have identifiable interests and the nature of communications requires such services, visual interpretation services are to be provided and paid for by the Government of Canada to allow the meaningful participation of organizations representing the deaf and hard of hearing communities;

Business Licence Denial: Poor Management

Posted by Johannes Schenk on October 10th, 2006 — Posted in Municipal Law

Poor management is one reason that you see, at least in BC and some of the Vancouver cases, for the denial of a municipal business licence. Despite what the cases said I always found this to be an odd reason for denying a licence: poor management would mean that many businesses would never get a licence.

I referred to the Inter-City case last week and you will note that Justice Burnyeat makes this point in his decision.

Business Licence: Municipal Council Reasons

Posted by Johannes Schenk on October 5th, 2006 — Posted in Municipal Law

377050 BC Ltd. dba the Inter-City Motel v. City of Burnaby, 2006 BCSC 1072, deals with the refusal of a motel operation busines licence and the requirement for a municipality to provide adequate reasons for the licence refusal.

On the facts, the City of Burnaby had concerns about illegal activity occurring on the premises and decided against issuing a business licence. Upon a request for reasons and what municipal bylaw the motel operation was breaching the City of Burnaby responded:

Rather, City Council exercised its authority under Section 60 of the Community Charter to not renew the business licence for what it considered to be reasonable cause, namely, poor management of the operation of the motel giving rise to concerns for public safety, the enjoyment of use of neighbouring properties, and a high demand for police services related to the business.

The following subsections of section 60 of the Community Charter, R.S.B.C. 2003, c. 26 govern business licence applications:

(1) An application for a business licence may be refused in any specific case, but

(a) the application must not be unreasonably refused, and

(b) on request the person or body making the decision must give written reasons for the refusal.

While the City of Burnaby did provide reasons for the business licence refusal the issue turned to whether the reasons were sufficient. Justice Burnyeat had this to say:

The “reasons” set out in the April 4, 2006 letter to the Petitioner are not satisfactory. First, no licence can be denied merely because there has been a finding that “poor management” was present. If that was the case, many licences would not be granted or renewed. Second, “concerns” are not “reasons”. “Reasons” should set out the facts or findings upon which the Council concluded that the application for a business licence should be denied. Third, the “reasons” merely repeat the recommendations made in the January 10, 2006 Report from the “Director Finance” rather than the reasons why Council found it necessary to deny the application of the Petitioner. Fourth, “concerns for public safety, the enjoyment of use of neighbouring properties, and a high demand for police services related to the business” are not “reasons” they are “conclusions.” The Petitioner is entitled to know the reasons why counsellors came to those conclusions. Fifth, there is no detail about what “safety” of the public was of concern to the Councillors whether or not it arose as a result of “poor management”. There is no indication of what “enjoyment of use” relating to neighbouring properties resulted because of the “poor management”. There was no context for the comment that there “a high demand for police services”.

In summary, when rejecting a business licence application a municipal council must give reasons in keeping with the principles of fundamental justice. The applicant has to be able to understand the facts underlying the licence rejection and how those facts were used to reject the application. Reasons that are in effect conclusions will not satisfy that standard.

Drug Addiction and Accommodation

Posted by Johannes Schenk on October 3rd, 2006 — Posted in Employment Law, Human Rights Law, Labour Law

Kemess Mines Ltd. v. International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 115, 2006 BCCA 58 and, Health Employers Assn. of B.C. (Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital) v. B.C. Nurses’ Union, 2006 BCCA 57, two recent BC Court of Appeal decisons, have been denied leave to appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada. The cases cover such important areas including hybrid disciplinary matters, perceived disability, accommodation for drug addiction and undue hardship and safety sensitive positions. The cases are a must read for anyone practising in this area.

14 Rules of Profitable Management

Posted by Johannes Schenk on October 2nd, 2006 — Posted in Employment Law

I happen to enjoy mechanical cameras. I enjoy them as much for their fine quality and mechanical working as I do using them. I bumped into an interesting article about older Japanese cameras that mentioned an early management guru, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, whose methods influenced post-war Japanese production methods. Hence Pentax, Nikon and Toyota. Professor Deming’s principles are applicable to any mangement process and make intuitive good sense.

Do you see how discipline has more than one meaning in the work place?