Administrative Law (Ontario)(SPPA)
(01 January 2015)
Chapter 17 - Tribunal Rule-Making Authority: Review of Orders
It is common in administrative law regimes for tribunals to have authority to review or reconsider their decisions. The range of such review can be minor - as in the case of review for calculation or typographical errors - or major, in the sense of a full legal and fact-finding review of the decision and order made at hearing.
An SPPA-governed tribunal may make s.25.1 rules on the review of their orders. If that is done it may - within a reasonable time - "review all or part of its own decision or order, and may confirm, vary, suspend or cancel the decision or order" [SPPA s.21.2(1)(2)].
In Barnes v Ontario (Social Benefits Tribunal)  QL #3096 (Ont Div Ct) [argued unsuccessfully by the author] the applicant for judicial review originally won a Tribunal appeal of their eligibility for ODSP income support. The Tribunal then - without issued reasons - granted the reconsideration request of the respondent ODSP Director and ordered a re-hearing, which decision effectively quashed the earlier appeal win. The applicant sought judicial review on the basis that natural justice required issued reasons, without which the reconsideration proceeding was practically unappealable and lacked any corrective function. The case was analyzed under the principles established in the leading Supreme Court of Canada case of Baker v Canada (SCC, 1999) and [as discussed in Ch.1, s.5: "Tribunals and Their Rules: Natural Justice and Fairness"] was dismissed by the court in part on the basis that the decision to conduct a reconsideration hearing was of no importance to the applicant, and that the effective quashing of the earlier appeal win was not analogous to an appellate court function and thus did not attract a high level of natural justice protection.
Further, the court held that there was no duty under s.17 of the SPPA to provide reasons as the decision to conduct a reconsideration hearing was not a "final order" within the meaning of that provision. On the same basis it held that the application for judicial review was premature.