Thoughts on Supreme Court of Canada’s Decision in Northern Regional Health Authority v Horrocks

  • October 26, 2021
  • BakerLaw

The Supreme Court of Canada recently issued its decision in Northern Regional Health Authority v Horrocks, 2021 SCC 423 (link), ruling that human rights tribunals in Manitoba cannot hear complaints from unionized employees.

While this is the case for Manitoba, a careful review of the decision indicates this is likely not the case in other jurisdictions, including Ontario.

David Baker, along with Wade Poziomka and Paul Champ offer their thoughts on this ruling, and why the decision in Harrocks may be limited to Manitoba here (link).

The table below provides an overview of the relevant legislation which supports their assertion that the Harrocks decision is limited to Manitoba.

Statute Section Provision
British Columbia Human Rights Code 25 (1)   In this section and in section 27, “proceeding” includes a proceeding authorized by another Act and a grievance under a collective agreement.

(2)   If at any time after a complaint is filed a member or panel determines that another proceeding is capable of appropriately dealing with the substance of a complaint, the member or panel may defer further consideration of the complaint until the outcome of the other proceeding.

Canada Labour Code 16(1.1) The Board has, in relation to any proceeding before it, power (l.1) to defer deciding any matter, where the Board considers that the matter could be resolved by arbitration or an alternate method of resolution;
Canada Labour Code 98(3) The Board may refuse to determine any complaint made pursuant to section 97 in respect of a matter that, in the opinion of the Board, could be referred by the complainant pursuant to a collective agreement to an arbitrator or arbitration board.
Canadian Human Rights Act 41(1)(2) Subject to section 40, the Commission shall deal with any complaint filed with it unless in respect of that complaint it appears to the Commission that

(a)    The alleged victim of the discriminatory practice to which the complaint relates ought to exhaust grievance or review procedures otherwise reasonably available;

(b)   The complainant is one that could more appropriately be dealt with, initially or completely, according to a procedure provided for under an Act of Parliament other than this Act;

(c)    The complaint is beyond the jurisdiction of the Commission;

(d)   The complaint is trivial, frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith; or

(e)   The complaint is based on acts or omissions the last of which occurred more than one year, or such longer period of time as the Commission considers appropriate in the circumstances, before receipt of the complaint.


The Commission may decline to deal with a complaint referred to in paragraph 10(a) in respect of an employer where it is of the opinion that the matter has been adequately dealt with in the employer’s employment equity plan prepared pursuant to section 10 of the Employment Equity Act.


Bakerlaw has experience representing both unionized and non-unionized employees before, during and after employment; to learn more click here (link). If you are a unionized or non-unionized employee and have experienced discrimination contact us (link) to see if we can assist you.

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