3.68: Court options to deal with significant deficiencies

Case Summary

The Government of Alberta applied to strike the Respondents’ claim pursuant to Rule 3.68. The Respondents’ claim alleged that the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, SA 2019, c P-41.7 (the “Arbitration Deferral Act”) offended various workers’ constitutional right to freedom of association by substantially interfering with the operation of collective agreements and ongoing bargaining relationships.

Rule 3.68 allows an Action to be struck if a “commencement document or pleading discloses no reasonable claim.” Justice Feth noted that a claim will only be struck if it is “plain and obvious, assuming the facts pleaded to be true, that the pleading discloses no reasonable cause of action: ... Another way of putting the test is that the claim has no reasonable prospect of success” (R v Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd., 2011 SCC 42).

Justice Feth noted that section 2(d) of the Charter guarantees the right of workers to associate in pursuit of collective workplace goals. The Court also noted that the guarantee protects the right of workers to engage in a meaningful process of collective bargaining. The Respondents’ claim alleged that the Arbitration Deferral Act constituted “substantial interference” with the right to associate.

After review, Justice Feth determined that the Respondents’ claim pleaded a reasonable cause of action and dismissed the Applicant’s Application. The Court determined that the pleadings alleged the necessary facts to maintain a claim and that it was not plain and obvious that there was no reasonable cause of action. The Court also noted that the Applicant’s justification argument under section 1 of the Charter cannot be determined on an Application to strike. Rather, the section 1 argument demands evidence and attracts the Applicant’s burden of proof in establishing such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

View CanLII Details