More than 10,000 Canadians received a medically-assisted death in 2021: report
Quebec Superior Court suspends Bill 96’s translation requirement until constitutionality determined
The Ontario government has given Maggie an ultimatum: the disabled teen can lose her funding or her independence
FBI took 11 sets of classified material from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home while investigating possible Espionage Act violations (US)
Ontario class action settlement reclassifies volunteers as employees, setting new precedent
Availability of Judicial Review in SABS Disputes
Are masking policies still valid?
Justice Canada releases commission report on impact of lack of legal aid in family law disputes
Harmonized sales tax part of maximum amount of attendant care benefits owed by insurer: court
New rules coming next month to help Canadians with cancelled and delayed flights
Stephen King set to testify for govt in books merger trial (US)
New law program in Quebec to begin next fall, a first in 50 years
The Impact of the Lack of Legal Aid in Family Law Cases
SCC rules that when someone is required by their partner to wear a condom but do not, they could be guilty of sexual assault.
Big Plastic suing feds over single-use ban — again
Tim Hortons offers coffee and doughnut as proposed settlement in class action lawsuit
The SCC has refused to hear the appeal to declare the renewal of the state of health emergency by the Quebec government invalid
Federal privacy commissioner investigating controversial ArriveCAN app
Kraken, a U.S. Crypto Exchange, Is Suspected of Violating Sanctions (US)
Ontario court certifies class action on former patients’ anxiety from notice of risk of infection
The stakes couldn’t be higher as Canada’s top court decides whether to hear climate class action lawsuit
Professor Barnali Choudhury selected by EU as trade and sustainable development expert
The Supreme Court decision on the ‘Ghomeshi’ amendments will help sexual assault victims access justice
AFN Reaches $20 B Final Settlement Agreement to Compensate First Nations Children and Families

Non-profit group has public interest standing in mental-health law case: top court

A not-for-profit organization has standing to challenge mental-health law in a British Columbia court.

PHOTO: The Supreme Court of Canada is shown in Ottawa on Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. PHOTO BY SEAN KILPATRICK /THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA — A not-for-profit organization has standing to challenge mental-health law in a British Columbia court, even though no individuals are plaintiffs in the case, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

The court’s unanimous decision Thursday came six years after the Council of Canadians with Disabilities contested the constitutionality of mental-health legislation in B.C. that allows non-consensual psychiatric care.

Two individual co-plaintiffs discontinued their claims, but the council hoped to proceed in court without them.

The council promotes the equality, autonomy and rights of people living with physical and mental disabilities in Canada, pursuing these goals through advocacy, policy development, and advancement of rights — sometimes by way of litigation.

A judge ruled the action should be dismissed on the basis that the council lacked public interest standing to pursue the challenge on its own.

However, the B.C. Court of Appeal found the council’s claim was a comprehensive challenge to specific legislation that directly affects all members of an identifiable group in a serious, specific and broadly based manner, regardless of individual experiences.

The Appeal Court ruled there should be a fresh hearing in the B.C. Supreme Court on the question of public interest standing, which prompted the provincial attorney general to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In its decision, the country’s top court said public interest standing allows individuals or organizations to bring cases before the courts even though they are not directly involved in the matter and even though their own rights are not infringed.

It can therefore play a pivotal role in litigation concerning the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, where issues may have a broad effect on society as a whole, Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote on behalf of the court.

In deciding whether to grant public interest standing, a court must look at whether the case raises a serious issue, whether the party bringing the action has a genuine interest in the matter, and whether the proposed suit is a reasonable and effective way of proceeding.

A court must also be mindful of allocating scarce judicial resources and screening out busybody litigants, ensuring the courts have the benefit of contending points of view of those most directly affected by the issues, the Supreme Court said.

A directly affected plaintiff is not vital to establish a concrete and well-developed factual setting for a case, Wagner wrote.

Public interest litigants can establish such a setting by calling affected, or otherwise knowledgeable, non-plaintiff witnesses, he said. “If a directly affected co-plaintiff is not required, then would-be public interest litigants should not have to justify — or compensate for — the absence of one.”

The council’s pleadings are well drafted and raise a serious issue: the constitutionality of laws that implicate — and allegedly violate — the Charter rights of people with mental disabilities, he added.

The council’s claim undoubtedly raises issues of public importance that transcend its immediate interests, Wagner said.

“The litigation has the potential of affecting a large group of people, namely people with mental disabilities. Moreover, granting public interest standing in this case will promote access to justice for a disadvantaged group who has historically faced serious barriers to bringing such litigation before the courts.”

Further, the pleadings reveal that the case does not turn on individual facts, Wagner said.

“Much of the case can be argued on the basis that the legislation is unconstitutional on its face because it authorizes, under certain circumstances, forced psychiatric treatment without the consent of the patient or of a substitute decision-maker,” he wrote.

“Expert evidence regarding how health care providers treat involuntary patients and evidence with respect to particular patients may provide helpful insight into how the legislation is applied.”

Lawyer Michael Feder, who argued the case on behalf of the council, said the ruling “has broad importance for access to justice and for ensuring discriminatory and other unconstitutional laws can be challenged in court.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2022.


Want direct access to the latest LITN content?

Stay in the loop ➞ Subscribe to LITN instant notifications.
Receive the latest content delivered directly to your device.
Unsubscribe at anytime.

Latest News


Join the LITN Newsletter ➞ the latest news delivered to your inbox. Unsubscribe at any time.


Instagram Feed