Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 240 22 I
M. Keil
  • Adjournment (additional submissions)
  • Statutory interpretation (principles of) (broad and purposive interpretation)
  • Time limits

In the September 21, 2020 decision under appeal, the ARO found that the worker had failed to meet the legislative transitional provisions to file her chronic mental stress claim on or before July 1, 2018, as required under section 13.1(2) of the Act. The worker sought a finding from the Tribunal that her claim could proceed on the merits and was not barred by virtue of the legislation.

The first part of the Vice-Chair's analysis concerned whether there was discretion to extend the time limit with respect to the transitional provisions. In particular, the last part of subsection 13.1(5) states that claims must be filed by July 1, 2018. With respect to the meaning of the word "must", the Vice-Chair agreed that it should be interpreted based on its legal meaning, rather than its ordinary meaning. Thus, "must" would constitute a binding requirement, an imperative. It was noted that since there were no directly applicable sections pertaining to the consequences of failing to meet the time limit, it was left to the decision-maker to decide. Since the Act is remedial legislation explicitly intended to provide benefits for workers who have experienced workplace injuries, the Act should be given "such fair, large and liberal interpretation as best ensures the attainment of its objects." This would be to avoid unintended consequences and infringement on substantive rights with procedural finality. The Vice-Chair decided that a contextual reading of the Act favoured an interpretation of "must" in section 13.1(5) as directory, rather than mandatory.
Next, the Vice-Chair had to determine whether the time limit should be waived and the appeal heard on the merits. For this, it would be required that there were extenuating and exceptional circumstances that led to the late filing. There was little documentation provided regarding this. It was noted that the worker's representative may also wish to make submissions on why the time limit should be extended. The Vice-Chair noted that given the finding that "must" is imperative, there must exist compelling facts in an individual case to provide a basis to extend the time limit. Once this information is obtained and the worker's representative has made submissions on the merits of allowing the time extension, the Vice-Chair will proceed to issue a final decision.
The appeal was adjourned to obtain the necessary information specified in the body of this decision, and to receive the worker's representative's submissions, in order to determine whether such a time extension should be allowed.