Appeal dismissed. The Court of Appeal upheld the Federal Court’s finding that the pension plan for Indigenous police officers employed by several band councils in Quebec falls under federal jurisdiction and is a plan registered under the federal Pension Benefits Standards Act.
The First Nations Public Security Pension Plan [“Plan”] was first registered by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions [“OSFI”] in 1981 under the authority of the Pension Benefits Standards Act [“PBSA”]. The purpose of that Plan is to provide retirement benefits to the police officers and special constables of a number of police forces of First Nations member communities serving Indigenous communities. The Plan currently covers the police forces under the responsibility of 14 band councils in Quebec.
The police services of the band councils that are members of the Plan are all subject to policing services agreements reached between each of the band councils, the Crown, as represented by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Government of Quebec. These agreements are made under the First Nations Policing Program [“Program”]. The federal government covers 52% of the costs, and the provincial government covers 48%. Tripartite agreements of the type at issue in this case are apparently preferred by the vast majority of the communities.
OSFI is responsible for regulating and supervising private federal pension plans registered under the PBSA in order to contribute to public confidence in the Canadian financial system (Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act). To be registered under the PBSA, a pension plan must primarily relate to employment in connection with the operation of any work, undertaking or business that is within federal legislative authority (PBSA). When this is not the case, the supervision of the plan is the responsibility of the provincial authorities.
The Federal Court found that the police officers and special constables hired and remunerated by band councils under a tripartite agreement that also involves the federal and Quebec governments are employed in a federal work, undertaking or business. Consequently, the Federal Court expressed the view that their pension plan was a plan registered under the PBSA and that OSFI should continue to administer the Plan.
This Court is of the view that the Federal Court did not err in allowing the application for judicial review and in declaring that the police officers and special constables hired and remunerated by band councils that are members of the Plan are employed in a work, undertaking or business within federal jurisdiction. Consequently, the PBSA and its Regulations apply to the Plan because the participating employees are employed in “included employment” within the meaning of the PBSA.
In contrast to the Indigenous police officers employed by the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service Board at issue in a previous Federal Court of Appeal decision, the Indigenous police officers in this matter are employed directly by band councils and associated with the governance of their First Nations, therefore their labour relations are federally regulated.