Canadian Labour Law after Vavilov
“Canadian Labour Law after Vavilov” (2021) 23 Canadian Journal of Labour and Employment Law 103-120
Canada’s doctrine of deference to administrative decision-makers was built on foundations provided by labour relations arbitrators and tribunals.
With Vavilov, however, those foundations have shifted. In the formative years of the Canadian law of deference, front-line labour relations decision-makers could rely on their expertise and privative clauses to provide shelter from judicial oversight.
Post Vavilov, expertise must be demonstrated – it cannot be presumed – and privative clauses give no special protection to administrative decision-makers, not even in the labour relations area.
This foundational shift has serious implications for the Canadian labour relations community: there is now a de facto requirement to provide reasons for decisions; these reasons must be justified in respect of the facts and law, demonstrate the application of expertise and be responsive to the central arguments and evidence; and counsel defending decisions on judicial review cannot invoke background context which is not laid out in the reasons.
In this short article, I lay out the origin story of contemporary Canadian administrative law, briefly describe its evolution in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, describe the key features of Vavilov and a post-Vavilov decision which illustrates the brave new world of labour relations decision-making.
This content has been updated on May 2, 2023 at 15:23.