Help

Supreme Court Judgments

Decision Information

Decision Content

Winnipeg School Division No. 1 v. Craton, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 150

 

The Winnipeg School Division No. 1     Appellant (Respondent);

 

and

 

Doreen Maud Craton     Respondent (Applicant);

 

and

 

The Winnipeg Teachers' Association No. 1 of the Manitoba Teachers' Society      (Respondent).

 

File No.: 17933.

 

1985: May 15; 1985: September 19.

 

Present: Dickson C.J. and Beetz, Estey, McIntyre, Chouinard, Lamer, Wilson, Le Dain and La Forest JJ.

 

 

on appeal from the court of appeal for manitoba

 

                   Civil rights ‑‑ Discrimination ‑‑ Age ‑‑ Mandatory retirement ‑‑ The Public Schools Act provision for mandatory retirement in conflict with The Human Rights Act ‑‑ Whether or not mandatory retirement requirement void ‑‑ The Human Rights Act, 1974 (Man.), c. 65, s. 6(1); C.C.S.M., c. H175, s. 6(1) ‑‑ The Public Schools Act, R.S.M. 1970, c. P250, s. 39(2); The Public Schools Act, 1980 (Man.), c. 33, s. 50; C.C.S.M., c. P250, s. 50.


 

                   Respondent, a teacher, was required by her collective agreement to retire at a fixed date following her sixty‑fifth birthday. The Human Rights Act, however, prohibited discrimination in employment on account of age while The Public Schools Act, which was enacted before and consolidated after The Human Rights Act was passed, allowed the fixing of a compulsory retirement age for teachers. Respondent successfully sought a declaration in the Court of Queen's Bench that mandatory retirement contravened The Human Rights Act and was invalid, and that her employment therefore could not be terminated. The Court of Appeal upheld that decision. At issue in this appeal was the conflict between the provisions of The Human Rights Act and The Public Schools Act.

 

                   Held: The appeal should be dismissed.

 

                   The mandatory retirement provision in The Public Schools Act was invalid in that it contravened The Human Rights Act. The Human Rights Act, since it was passed after The Public Schools Act, prevailed over and implicitly repealed any earlier legislation in so far as there was conflict. The Public Schools Act of 1980 was not specific legislation designed to reaffirm the Board's right to set a mandatory retirement age, notwithstanding The Human Rights Act, but rather was a mere re‑enactment and consolidation. Indeed, given the special nature of human rights legislation, any amendment or repeal or exception to that legislation must be by clear legislative pronouncement and not by implication. Were it otherwise, the human rights legislation would be robbed of its special nature and would give scant protection to the rights proclaimed.

 

                   The Human Rights Act was legislation declaring public policy and therefore could not be avoided by private contract. The parties could not contract out of the Act's provisions by agreeing to article 14 of the Collective Agreement.

 

Cases Cited

 

                   Ontario Human Rights Commission v. Borough of Etobicoke, [1982] 1 S.C.R. 202; Morisse v. Royal British Bank (1856), 1 C.B. (N.S.) 67; 140 E.R. 27; Insurance Corporation of British Columbia v. Heerspink, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 145, referred to; Winnipeg School Division No. 1 v. MacArthur, [1982] 3 W.W.R. 342, distinguished.

 

Statutes and Regulations Cited

 

Human Rights Act, 1974 (Man.), c. 65, s. 6(1).

 

Public Schools Act, R.S.M. 1970, c. P250, s. 39(2).

 

Public Schools Act, 1980 (Man.), c. 33, s. 50.

 

 

                   APPEAL from a judgment of the Manitoba Court of Appeal, [1983] 6 W.W.R. 87, 149 D.L.R. (3d) 542, dismissing an appeal from a judgment of Deniset J. granting an application for a declaration that a provision of a collective agreement concerning mandatory retirement was invalid. Appeal dismissed.

 

                   Robert Simpson, for the appellant.

 

                   Mel Myers, Q.C., for the respondent.

 

                   The judgment of the Court was delivered by

 

1.                McIntyre J.‑‑This appeal must resolve the conflict between s. 6(1) of The Human Rights Act, 1974 (Man.), c. 65, as amended; C.C.S.M., c.  H175, which prohibits discrimination in employment on account of age, and s. 50 of The Public Schools Act, 1980 (Man.), c. 33; C.C.S.M., c. P250, which empowers a school board to fix a compulsory retirement age for teachers.

 

2.                The facts may be shortly stated. The respondent, Doreen Maud Craton, is a teacher in The Winnipeg School District No. 1. She is employed pursuant to a collective agreement between the School Division and the Manitoba Teachers' Society. The Collective Bargaining Agreement contains a provision for mandatory retirement of teachers at age sixty‑five. Mrs. Craton turned sixty‑five in January, 1983 and was notified that her employment would be terminated as of August 31, 1983. She applied by way of originating notice of motion in the Court of Queen's Bench for a declaration that the mandatory retirement provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement is invalid because it contravenes the Manitoba Human Rights Act, and that her employment could not be terminated by reason of her reaching the age of sixty‑five. The respondent succeeded at trial and on appeal (Monnin C.J.M., Hall and Huband JJ.A.) This appeal is by leave granted November 24, 1983.

 

3.                The relevant statutory provisions are set out hereunder:

 

The Human Rights Act, 1974 (Man.), c. 65, as amended; C.C.S.M., c. H175, s. 6(1):

 

6 (1) Every person has the right of equality of opportunity based upon bona fide qualifications in respect of his occupation or employment or in respect of training for employment or in respect of an intended occupation, employment, advancement or promotion, and in respect of his membership or intended membership in a trade union, employers' organization or occupational association; and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing

 

(a)  no employer or person acting on behalf of an employer, shall refuse to employ, or to continue to employ or to train the person for employment or to advance or promote that person, or discriminate against that person in respect of employment or any term or condition of employment;

 

(b)  no employment agency shall refuse to refer a person for employment, or for training for employment, and

 

(c)  no trade union, employers' organization or occupational association shall refuse membership to, expel, suspend or otherwise  discriminate against that person; or negotiate, on behalf of that person, an agreement that would discriminate against him;

 

because of race, nationality, religion, colour, sex, age, marital status, physical or mental handicap, ethnic or national origin, or political beliefs or family status of that person.

 

The Public Schools Act, R.S.M. 1970, c. P250, s. 39(2):

 

39 (2) The board of an area may fix a compulsory retirement age for teachers employed by it; but the compulsory retirement age shall not be less than sixty‑five years of age.

 

The Public Schools Act, 1980 (Man.), c. 33; C.C.S.M., c. P250, s. 50:

 

50 A school board may fix a complusory retirement age for teachers employed by it but the compulsory retirement age shall not be less than 65 years of age.

 

The relevant provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement are found in article 14:

 

                   14. Retirement Date‑‑The compulsory retirement date for each teacher will be the 31st day of August coinciding with, or next following, the date upon which the teacher attains the age of sixty‑five years, and no teacher shall be continued in the service of the Division beyond normal retirement age.

 

4.                In the Court of Appeal, Monnin C.J.M. found that there was a clear conflict between s. 50 of The Public Schools Act and s. 6(1) of The Human Rights Act. Section 50 of The Public Schools Act had been passed in 1980, but was to the same effect as s. 39(2) of the 1970 consolidation (which preserved the identical language of the original enactment in 1964) and, therefore, could not have been intended as an exception to the provisions of The Human Rights Act. Furthermore, human rights legislation is public and fundamental law of general application and prevails where there is a conflict with other specific legislation unless an exception is created. Consequently, s. 50 of The Public Schools Act and article 14 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement were void and could not operate to compel Mrs. Craton's retirement. Hall J.A. agreed with the Chief Justice, adding that s. 39(2), as enacted in 1964, though repealed as part of a general revision in 1980, was re‑enacted with no material change as s. 50 of The Public Schools Act. He said, in answer to the appellant's contention, that the 1980 Public Schools Act was a later enactment than s. 6(1), and therefore by implication an exception to The Human Rights Act:

 

I cannot accept that the mere mechanics of repeal and re‑enactment should be determinative of the question of whether the Human Rights Act displaces the Public Schools Act.

 

Huband J.A. dissented. He would have allowed the appellant's appeal on the basis that while The Human Rights Act would override s. 39(2) of the old Act, the fact that the new Public Schools Act was passed in 1980, subsequent to The Human Rights Act, reaffirmed the authority of the Board to set a compulsory retirement age. He regarded s. 50 as specific legislation relating only to teachers and creating a limited exception to s. 6(1) of The Human Rights Act.

 

5.                There is no merit in the argument raised below, but not pressed in this Court, that the parties by agreeing to article 14 in the Collective Bargaining Agreement have contracted themselves out of the provisions of s. 6(1). The Human Rights Act is legislation declaring public policy and may not be avoided by private contract. See: Ontario Human Rights Commission v. Borough of Etobicoke, [1982] 1 S.C.R. 202, at pp. 213‑14. Accordingly, there is only one issue in this case: is s. 50 of the 1980 Public Schools Act effective to create an exception to the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of age set out in s. 6(1) of The Human Rights Act?

 

6.                The appellant contended that The Public Schools Act of 1980 was not a mere re‑enactment and consolidation of the earlier statute, but was actually specific legislation designed to reaffirm the right of the Board to create a mandatory retirement age for school teachers, despite the provisions of The Human Rights Act. For this proposition, reliance was placed on Winnipeg School Division No. 1 v. MacArthur, [1982] 3 W.W.R. 342, a decision of Kroft J. of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench. The case is not, in my view, of any assistance to the appellant. It turned largely on the question of whether a school is "any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public", an issue of no significance here. In obiter Kroft J. said, at p. 356, that:

 

When the Legislature in 1980 enacted the Public Schools Act, it must be assumed that it did so with full knowledge of the provisions of the Human Rights Act.

 

This case, however, was decided before Heerspink, infra, in this Court, and for the reasons stated below I do not consider that the quoted words advance the appellant's position.

 

7.                The record discloses, as we have seen above, that s. 39(2) is the first statutory enactment with which we are here concerned. Had it not been for the 1980 consolidation, which included s. 50, no question would have arisen as to which provision would govern. Section 6(1) of The Human Rights Act, enacted in 1974, was clearly a subsequent enactment and an express prohibition against discrimination in employment on the basis of age and, even setting aside the notion of any primacy for human rights legislation, it would have prevailed and repealed s. 39(2) by implication. There is no significant difference between the two sections, 39(2) and 50, and I am in agreement with the majority of the Court of Appeal that the enactment of s. 39(2) as s. 50 of the 1980 consolidation cannot be considered to have repealed s. 6(1) by implication. I am strengthened in this view by the words of William J. in Morisse v. Royal British Bank (1856), 1 C.B. (N.S.) 67; 140 E.R. 27, at p. 35:

 

The only point which presented any plausibility of argument was, the suggestion that the 10th section of the 7 & 8 Vict. c. 111 was repealed by the 182nd section of the last bankrupt act, 12 & 13 Vict. c. 106. But it is clear that this last‑mentioned provision cannot, by merely re‑enacting a previous section of the 6 G.4, c. 16, operate a repeal of the intermediate enactment.

 

And by the words of Willes J. in the same case, at p. 36:

 

As to the construction of the 182nd section of the bankrupt act, there is a recent case before Vice‑Chancellor Kindersley, of Wallace v. Blackwell, 3 Drewry, 538, where the change of position of a clause, by its re‑enactment in a subsequent statute, was considered not to vary its operation.

 

I am therefore of the view that the appellant must fail on this point. Section 50 of The Public Schools Act of 1980 cannot be considered a later enactment having the effect of creating an exception to the provisions of s. 6(1) of The Human Rights Act.

 

8.                In any event, I am in agreement with Monnin C.J.M. where he said:

 

                   Human rights legislation is public and fundamental law of general application. If there is a conflict between this fundamental law and other specific legislation, unless an exception is created, the human rights legislation must govern.

 

This is in accordance with the views expressed by Lamer J. in Insurance Corporation of British Columbia v. Heerspink, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 145. Human rights legislation is of a special nature and declares public policy regarding matters of general concern. Is is not constitutional in nature in the sense that it may not be altered, amended, or repealed by the Legislature. It is, however, of such nature that it may not be altered, amended, or repealed, nor may exceptions be created to its provisions, save by clear legislative pronouncement. To adopt and apply any theory of implied repeal by later statutory enactment to legislation of this kind would be to rob it of its special nature and give scant protection to the rights it proclaims. In this case it cannot be said that s. 50 of the 1980 consolidation is a sufficiently express indication of a legislative intent to create an exception to the provisions of s. 6(1) of The Human Rights Act.

 

9.                I would therefore dismiss the appeal with costs.

 

                   Appeal dismissed with costs.

 

                   Solicitors for the appellant: Fillmore & Riley, Winnipeg.

 

                   Solicitors for the respondent: Skwark, Myers, Baizley & Weinstein, Winnipeg.

 

 

Lexum

For 20 years now, the Lexum site has been the main public source for Supreme Court decisions.


>

Decisia

 

Efficient access to your decisions

Decisia is an online service for courts, boards and tribunals aiming to provide easy and professional access to their decisions from their own website.

Learn More