Stockwoods successfully intervenes in precedent-setting First Nations human rights decision

Stockwoods lawyer Justin Safayeni successfully intervened on behalf of Amnesty International in a judicial review application in Federal Court.  In a decision released today, the Federal Court quashed a decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and held that in order to make out a claim under section 5(b) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which prohibits adverse differentiation in the provision of services, a claimant need not identify a ‘comparator’ group.  Amnesty International’s submissions on international law and its application in interpreting section 5(b) were expressly adopted by the Federal Court in its reasons.

The complaints before the Tribunal allege that First Nations children on reserve are receiving unequal funding for child welfare services, as compared to children living off reserve.  Applying a strict comparator group requirement, the Tribunal had held that the complaints could not succeed under the Canadian Human Rights Act.  The result of the Federal Court’s decision is that the complaints can now proceed and will be heard on their merits by a differently constituted panel of the Tribunal.