Temagami First Nation v Presseault, 2020 FC 933

The Court dismissed an application for judicial review of an adjudicator’s jurisdictional decision with respect to the Canada Labour Code. The adjudicator did not err in concluding that a claim for unjust dismissal against an on-reserve daycare fell within the jurisdiction of the Code given that the daycare was functionally integrated with the First Nation. 

Indigenous Law Centre CaseWatch Blog

In 1998, the Temagami First Nation [“TFN”] hired Tammy Presseault, to prepare its proposal to the Government of Canada for funding under the Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve program. The funding helped establish a daycare to provide childcare services on TFN territory. Ms. Presseault worked with the daycare from 2011 until her dismissal in 2017. Following the termination of her employment, Ms. Presseault filed a complaint of unjust dismissal under the Canada Labour Code [“Code”]. The TFN requested that the Adjudicator dismiss Ms. Presseault’s complaint on the grounds that her employment with TFN is a matter within provincial jurisdiction, not federal jurisdiction.

In 2019, the Adjudicator found that the federal government had direct jurisdiction, or in the alternative, derivative jurisdiction over the labour relations of the daycare. He applied the two-stage analysis outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada in NIL/TU,O Child and Family Services Society v BC Government and Service Employees’ Union, 2010 SCC 45 [“NIL/TU,O”]. He further relied on Canada (AG) v Munsee-Delaware Nation 2015 FC 366 [“Munsee-Delaware”] to conclude that the NIL/TU,O functional test must be applied to the governance functions of First Nations and their Councils in order to determine whether the entity’s labour and employment relations come under federal or provincial regulation. A functional assessment is to be undertaken to consider whether an employee’s role is concerned with the administration and governance of a First Nation or Band Council. If so, they fall under federal jurisdiction since the administration of a First Nation is a federal undertaking (Munsee-Delaware).

The Adjudicator concluded that the dominant character of the daycare’s operation was integral to the First Nation as a federal undertaking and that the Daycare is an indivisible and integrated operation. Further, the Adjudicator stated that provincial jurisdiction over the labour relations of the Daycare would impair the core of federal jurisdiction over the governance function of the TFN.

The TFN seeks judicial review of the Adjudicator’s decision that concluded that Ms. Presseault’s claim for unjust dismissal was within the jurisdiction of the Code. This Court dismisses the judicial review. The Adjudicator did not err in applying the appropriate test or in his consideration of the facts to determine that the unjust dismissal claim was within the jurisdiction of the Code. The Court determined that the Adjudicator identified and applied the proper test and reasonably assessed the specific factual matrix to conclude that the nexus of reporting and the control exercised caused the daycare to be functionally integrated with the TFN. Although the TFN takes issue with some of the facts considered by the Adjudicator, the Adjudicator reasonably balanced all of the facts put before him.

Ms. Presseault’s position with the daycare is functionally integrated into the general administration and governance of the TFN (Munsee-Delaware). There is no basis for this Court to interfere with the Adjudicator’s conclusion on the functional analysis. Having concluded under the functional test that the daycare was a federal undertaking, the Adjudicator was not required to undertake a derivative analysis. However, he did consider the derivative analysis and reached the same conclusion as with the functional analysis.

The derivative analysis asks whether provincial regulation of an entity’s labour relations impairs the core of the relevant head of power (NIL/TU,O). The derivative analysis also asks whether activities are integral to a federal undertaking in a way that justifies imposing exceptional federal jurisdiction for the purposes of labour relations (Tessier Ltée v Quebec (Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail), 2012 SCC 23). Namely, that the dominant character of the operations of the daycare is integral to the TFN as a federal undertaking.

The Adjudicator’s findings of fact are owed deference. The finding that Ms. Presseault’s position with the daycare is integrated into the governance and administration function of the TFN is reasonable and supported by the undisputed evidence. The Adjudicator did not err in concluding that the federal government also has derivative jurisdiction on the facts of this case.

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