Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal, et al. v. Fraser Health Authority, et al.

(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)


Workers' compensation - Boards and tribunals, Jurisdiction, Appeals, Judicial review, Standard of review.


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Administrative law - Boards and tribunals - Jurisdiction - Appeals - Judicial review - Standard of review - Workers’ Compensation - Causation - Did the Court of Appeal err in concluding that it is patently unreasonable to conclude that section 253.1(5) of the Act permits WCAT to reopen an appeal to cure a patently unreasonable error - Did the Court of Appeal err in concluding that it is patently unreasonable to conclude that a panel other than the original panel may reopen an appeal to cure a jurisdictional defect - Did the Court of Appeal err in concluding that if there is a valid reconsideration decision, the object of judicial review is solely the reconsideration decision - Did the Court of Appeal err in concluding that if the reconsideration decision is the object of review, the standard of judicial review of that decision is patent unreasonableness - Whether the appropriate approach of the courts on judicial review of findings of fact made by an administrative tribunal should be to determine whether there was evidence capable of supporting the findings or to go further and determine also whether such evidence was sufficient - Workers’ Compensation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 492.

The three individuals are among six laboratory technicians employed at Mission Memorial Hospital in B.C. who contracted breast cancer during the period from 1970 and 2004. They applied to the Workers’ Compensation Board for workers compensation benefits, which were denied on the basis that the workplace had not been shown to have caused or materially contributed to the worker’s condition. These decisions were confirmed by the Board’s Review Division. On appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (“WCAT”), it found that the workers had met the burden of proof in establishing a causal connection. On reconsiderations by a Review Panel, the decisions were found not to have been patently unreasonable. On an application for judicial review to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the parties proceeded with one application as representative of all three. The Court held that there had been “no evidence” from which causation could have been inferred. The Tribunal’s original decision having been found patently unreasonable, the reconsideration decision was held to be incorrect. The Court remitted the matter to the Tribunal for reconsideration. The British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, with Newbury and Bennett JJ.A. dissenting.