Les décisions du Tribunal d’appel de la sécurité professionnelle et de l’assurance contre les accidents du travail (le Tribunal) sont sans appel. Il arrive toutefois à l’occasion qu’une partie insatisfaite dépose une demande de révision judiciaire.
La partie qui dépose une demande de révision judiciaire risque d’avoir à verser des dépens aux autres parties, y compris au Tribunal, si le tribunal de révision rejette sa demande. Les dépens imposés à la partie dont la demande est rejetée s’élèvent souvent à des milliers de dollars.
Les tribunaux ont déclaré à maintes reprises qu’elles feraient preuve de retenue à l’égard des décisions du Tribunal lors de l’examen des demandes de révision judiciaire, ne s’immisçant que si les décisions visées sont « irrationnelles ». Pendant de nombreuses années, les tribunaux ont soutenu qu’il existait trois normes de contrôle : la norme de la décision correcte, celle de la décision raisonnable simpliciteret celle de la décision manifestement déraisonnable. Dans nombre de jugements, les tribunaux de révision ont conclu que c’est la norme de la décision manifestement déraisonnable qui s’applique aux décisions du Tribunal, soit la norme de contrôle exigeant la plus grande retenue.
Dans l’arrêt Dunsmuir c. Nouveau-Brunswick,  1 R.C.S. 190, 2008, la Cour suprême du Canada a statué que la norme de la décision manifestement déraisonnable ne serait plus reconnue, de sorte que la seule norme de contrôle serait celle de la raisonnabilité. Cela n’a toutefois eu aucune incidence sur le degré de retenue des tribunaux de révision à l’égard des décisions du Tribunal. Dans le jugement Rodrigues v. Ontario (Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal) (2008) 92 O.R. (3d) 757, la Cour d’appel de l’Ontario a statué ce qui suit : “reviewing courts can interfere only where the Tribunal's decision is clearly irrational”.
Un facteur expliquant la réticence des tribunaux à s’immiscer dans les décisions du Tribunal est l’article 123 de la Loi de 1997 sur la sécurité professionnelle et l’assurance contre les accidents du travail (Loi de 1997). L’article 123 est une clause privative stipulant que les décisions du Tribunal sont définitives et qu’elles ne peuvent être remises en question ni faire l’objet d’une révision devant un tribunal judiciaire. La Cour d’appel a toutefois statué que, même en l’absence d’une clause privative, les décisions du Tribunal devraient faire l’objet de déférence. Une raison très importante expliquant la très grande déférence des tribunaux à l’égard des décisions du Tribunal est que ce dernier est reconnu comme un organe décisionnel spécialisé doté d’une expertise particulière dans les litiges en matière de sécurité professionnelle et d’assurance contre les accidents du travail.
À plusieurs occasions, les tribunaux ont conclu que les décisions du Tribunal n’étaient pas manifestement déraisonnables mais qu’elles étaient en fait correctes. (Rogers and Malfara v. WCAT, Dec. 7, 1990, unreported, Divisional Court, Decision 258/90; Stelpipe v. Franyo and WCAT, Feb. 14, 1991, unreported, Divisional Court, Decision 298/88; Canada Post v. Johnson, Nov. 28, 2003, Decisions 1480/98I and 1480/98; Canadian Pacific Railway v. WCAT and Minshall (2000) O.J. No. 500, Decision 647/95; Canada Post Corp. v. Smith (1998), 40 O.R. (3d) 97 (C.A.), leave to appeal to S.C.C. dismissed,  S.C.C.A No. 329, Decision 716/91; Dionne v. Ontario Hydro  O.J. No. 4337, Decision 1118/07).
Suivent quelques extraits de jugements illustrant comment les tribunaux traitent les demandes de révision judiciaire visant les décisions du Tribunal et le degré de déférence approprié.
Dans le jugement Quebec and Ontario Transportation Co. v. Otchere, (1992) O.J. No. 647, Decision 977/89, la Cour divisionnaire a déclaré :
"It is at the heart of this tribunal's specialized expertise to decide whether the worker's death resulted from an accident that arose out of and in the course of the worker's employment. It was open to the Appeals Tribunal to find that the act of moving from ship to dock, as the seaman did, was an activity reasonably incidental to the worker's employment."
Dans le jugement Tempelman v. Ontario Workplace Appeals Tribunal (1996), O.J. No. 2097, Decision 82/93), la Cour divisionnaire a déclaré :
"In my view, by virtue of this privative clause of the Workers' Compensation Act, factual or legal determinations of the Tribunal made within its exclusive jurisdiction are immune from judicial review unless such determinations are so patently unreasonable as to require the intervention of the Court….
The W.C.A.T. is a tripartite specialist Tribunal. Therefore, it is entitled to deference in its interpretation of its constituent or home statute and its assessment of the facts in case before the Tribunal."
Dans le jugement Canada Post v. Smith (supra), la Cour d’appel a déclaré :
"The application of the compensation scheme for injured workers in Ontario, and, in particular, the determination of which provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act come within that scheme are at the heart of the Board's and the Tribunal's specialized expertise. That expertise is entitled to deference Canada (Director of Investigation and Research) v. Southam Inc.,  1 S.C.R. 748 at p.775; C.U.P.E., Local 301 v. City of Montreal,  1 S.C.R. 793 at p.180)….
La Cour d’appel a aussi déclaré :
"…The GECA is merely the statutory vehicle for transferring authority over these issues to the appropriate provincial bodies (s. 4(3)), thereby inferentially absorbing all compensation-related rights and benefits provisions in provincial statutes (s. 4(2)). As the expert body and designated interpreter of this legislation in Ontario, the Tribunal's decisions in this regard are entitled to curial deference absent clear irrationality.
No such irrationality is apparent either from the Tribunal's analysis or its conclusion in this case. Section 4(2) entitles injured federal employees to compensation under the same conditions as are available under provincial law. It is far from irrational or unreasonable to conclude that the right of re employment, found in s. 54, is a fundamental condition of the entitlement to compensation in Ontario, an integral part of Ontario's compensation scheme, and therefore one of the benefits available as compensation in Ontario under s. 4(2) of the GECA.
If the standard, however, is correctness, and I am wrong in concluding that the Tribunal's decision is entitled to curial deference based on its expertise and/or its jurisdictional hegemony, I am of the view, based on the foregoing analysis, that the Tribunal's decision is correct."
Dans le jugement Blue Line Taxi v. WSIAT and Deek (2002) O.J. No. 2036 (Div. Ct.), Decisions 934/98I and 934/98, la Cour divisionnaire a déclaré :
"The Tribunal is a specialized body protected by a strong privative clause (s. 123 of the Act) and is entitled to curial deference in its interpretation of its constituent statute and assessment of the facts. The Court can interfere with the decision of the Tribunal if it is patently unreasonable. See: Ahmed v. Ontario (Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal)  O.J. No. 2474 (Div. Ct.)."
Dans le jugement Wolverine Forest Products Ltd. v. Ontario (Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal) (1993), 64 O.C.A. 228 (Div. Ct.), la Cour a soutenu que la question de savoir si certains travailleurs sont des entrepreneurs indépendants ou des travailleurs est au cœur des fonctions exécutées par la Commission.
Dans le jugement Chambers v. WSIAT (2002) O.J. No. 4622, Decision 1902/01, la Cour a déclaré :
"The Tribunal is recognized by appellate authorities as a specialized Tribunal possessing expertise in issues relating to workplace issues, insurance law, and the effect of provisions of its constituent statute on a worker's right to sue….
The Tribunal's conclusion is informed by a complex mix of statutory concepts and entitlements with practical and policy factors which withstand a reasonably probing critique. It confirms the legislative intent that the decision is one properly left to the specialized Tribunal appointed to do so within the workers compensation scheme, unless its decision is patently unreasonable. The Tribunal's decision in this case is not a patently unreasonable one and is within its jurisdiction to make."
Dans le jugement D & W Forwarders v. WSIAT (2003) O.J. No. 5050, Decision 2185/01, la Cour divisionnaire a déclaré :
"The tribunal is a specialized body protected by a strong privative clause and is entitled to curial deference in the interpretation of its constituent statute and assessment of the facts. See Blue Line Taxi Co. v. Deek,  O.J. No. 2036 (Div. Ct.). Assessment and classification are at the heart of the tribunal's role and purpose. See Pasiechnyk v. Saskatchewan (Workers' Compensation Board),  2 S.C.R. 890."
Dans le jugement Canada Post v. Johnson (2004) O.J. No. 63, Decisions 1480/98I and 1480/98, la Cour a déclaré :
“….The expertise of the provincial workers' compensation boards has been recognized in a number of judicial decisions: Pasiechniyk v. Saskatchewan (Workers' Compensation Board),  2 S.C.R. 890 at 913-914, Canada Post Corporation v. Smith (1998), 40 O.R. (3d) 97 (Ont. C.A.) at 106.
The purpose of the GECA as it applies to this case is to delegate to the Tribunal decisions as to the eligibility for compensation and the rate and conditions of compensation. The Tribunal is given broad discretion under the WCA and is required to base its decisions upon the real merits and justice of the case before it (WCA s. 73, 90, 92). It is a specialized tribunal which finds facts, decides questions of law and applies its understanding of the body of law, policy and jurisprudence that has developed around the workers' compensation system in Ontario. As stated in Pushpanathan, supra, at 1009, a statutory purpose that requires a tribunal to select from a range of remedial choices, is concerned with the protection of the public, engages policy issues, or involves a balancing of multiple sets of interests or considerations, will demand greater deference from a reviewing court.
Dans le jugement Gowling v. WSIAT and City of Hamilton (2004) O.J. No. 919, Decisions 255/02E, 255/02, 255/02R, la Cour divisionnaire a déclaré :
"… appellate courts have applied a standard of patent unreasonableness when reviewing the decisions of the Workers' Compensation Board, the WSIAT, or its predecessor Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal. (See Meyer v. Waycon International Trucks Ltd. (1998), 38 O.A.C. 398 (C.A.); Consumers' Gas Co. v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal (1995), 87 O.A.C. 312 (Div. Ct.); and Chambers v. Ontario (Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal) (2002), 167 O.A.C. 101 (Div. Ct.). See also Ahmed v. Ontario (Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal,  O.J. No. 2474 (Div. Ct.); and Blue Line Taxi Co. v. Deek,  O.J. No. 2036 (Div. Ct.).)"
Dans le jugement Blue Line Taxi Co. c. Deek, la Cour divisionnaire a déclaré ce qui suit au paragraphe 8  O.J. No. 2036 (D.C.) :
"The Tribunal is a specialized body protected by a strong privative clause (s. 123 of the Act) and is entitled to curial deference in its interpretation of its constituent statute and assessment of the facts. The Court can interfere with the decision of the Tribunal if it is patently unreasonable.
As we view the material filed and the submissions, the respondents' position is that the matter of the applicant's entitlement to FEL benefits falls within the Tribunal's exclusive jurisdiction, and determination of the Tribunal made within its exclusive jurisdiction are immune from judicial review unless such determinations are so patently unreasonable as to require the intervention of the court.
In our view the appeal decision of Vice-Chair E.J. Smith, which hearing was completed on July 8, 2002, is a comprehensive consideration of the matters before her with a detailed analysis of the issues.
In our view it may not be held to be patently unreasonable.
As to the denial of natural justice, we are of the view that there is, on the material before us, no basis for such a finding."
Dans le jugement Ottawa Hospital v. Meyer and WSIAT (15 juin 2004), unreported, Decisions 28/02, 28/02R, la Cour divisionnaire a déclaré :
"The WSIAT is a specialized Tribunal with broad expertise in WSIB matters, and its decisions are protected by a privative clause. It is entitled to great deference."
Dans le jugement Roach c. Ontario (Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal)  O.J. No. 1295 (concernant la décision no 770/98IR), demande d’autorisation d’appel à la CSC rejetée  S.C.C.A. No. 264 (QL), la Cour d’appel a déclaré :
"The parties agreed, and the Divisional Court held, that the standard of review for the Tribunal’s reconsideration decision was patent unreasonableness. We agree.
The patent unreasonableness standard of review is "clearly a very strict test": see Canada (Attorney General) v. Public Service Alliance of Canada,  1 S.C.R. 941 at 964 ("PSAC"). A tribunal's decision should be set aside as patently unreasonable only if it is "clearly irrational, that is to say evidently not in accordance with reason" or "so flawed ... that no amount of curial deference can properly justify letting it stand": see, respectively, PSAC at pp. 963-64 and C.U.P.E. v. Ontario (Minister of Labour),  1 S.C.R. 539 at para. 165.
With respect, I am of the view that the Divisional Court erred in its conclusion that the Tribunal’s reconsideration was so flawed that it met this exacting standard and deserved to be quashed….
….The Tribunal carefully considered all the evidence and reached, and explained, its decision. In short, the Tribunal did precisely what it was supposed to do.
…I conclude that the Divisional Court erred in determining that the Tribunal’s reconsideration decision was patently unreasonable.
I would allow the appeal, set aside the decision of the Divisional Court and reinstate the final decision of the Tribunal."
Dans Rodrigues v. Ontario (Workplace Safety & Insurance Appeals Tribunal) (2008) 92 O.R. (3d) 757, affaire examinée après l’arrêt Dunsmuir c. Nouveau-Brunswick, la Cour d’appel a déclaré ce qui suit :
"Although the Supreme Court of Canada in Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick,  1 S.C.R. 190,  S.C.J. No. 9, 2008 SCC 9 collapsed the patent unreasonableness and simpliciter standard of review into a single form of an unreasonableness standard, the Supreme Court appears to say that it is not necessary to engage in a fresh standard of review analysis in decisions made before Dunsmuir. This would mean that the standard of review in this case would remain patent unreasonableness. …. Whether the standard of review is patent unreasonableness or unreasonableness, existing jurisprudence shows that reviewing courts can interfere only where in the case of patent unreasonableness where the Tribunal's decision is "clearly irrational", and in the case of unreasonableness where the decision does not fall within a range of possible, acceptable outcomes. To interfere, the reviewing court must find that there are no lines of reasoning supporting the decision that could have reasonably led the tribunal to reach the decision that it did.
….It would appear that no court has ever interfered with any of the thousands of decisions of the Tribunal concerning an employee's pre-accident earnings. This is no doubt due to the substantial degree of deference accorded to the Tribunal based on the legislature's decision to create the Board and the Tribunal, to vest in the Board the exclusive authority to calculate a worker's pre-accident earnings, to delegate to the Tribunal the exclusive authority to review matters of workplace safety and insurance, to appoint to the Board and Tribunal members who are experienced in issues of workers' compensation, and to protect the Board and the Tribunal with the toughest privative clause known to Ontario law. The privative clause is most important as it evidences a legislature's intent that an administrative decision maker be given greater deference and that interference by reviewing courts be minimized: Dunsmuir, at paras. 45 and 48. Thus, reviewing courts can interfere only where the Tribunal's decision is clearly irrational."
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