Rarotonga, 2010

Simon Shields, LLB

Online Lawyer (Ontario)

Most Popular
Contracts / Torts / Evidence / Limitations / Tenant Plus / welfare (ontario works) / odsp / human rights / employment / consumer / E-Access
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW | SPPA / SMALL CLAIMS / CIVIL COURT / CIVIL APPEALS / JUDICIAL REVIEWS

home / about / Little Friends Lefkada (Greece) / testimonials / Conditions of Use

Associated Site
Canadian Animal Law

Statutory Interpretation - General II

. R. v. Bondfield Construction Company Limited

In R. v. Bondfield Construction Company Limited (Ont CA, 2022) the Court of Appeal considered basic principles of statutory interpretation:
(1) The Principles of Interpretation

[56] The proper approach to the interpretation of legislation is well-known and summarized in Rizzo & Rizzo Shoes Ltd. (Re), 1998 CanLII 837 (SCC), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 27, at para. 21: “the words of the Act are to be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act and the intention of Parliament”. This approach applies to any question of statutory or regulatory interpretation, including in respect of the OHSA and its regulations: see, e.g., R. v. Dofasco Inc., 2007 ONCA 769, 87 O.R. (3d) 161, at para. 12, leave to appeal refused, [2008] S.C.C.A. No. 24; Blue Mountain Resorts Ltd. v. Ontario (Labour), 2013 ONCA 75, 114 O.R. (3d) 321, at para. 45. However, these interpretive factors “need not be canvassed separately in every case, and in any event are closely related and interdependent”: Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership v. Rex, 2002 SCC 42, [2002] 2 S.C.R. 559, at para. 31.

[57] Although all of the interpretive principles must be kept in mind when approaching the interpretive exercise, the starting point for analyzing questions of statutory interpretation is to examine the words of the provision in their grammatical and ordinary sense: R. v. Conception, 2014 SCC 60, [2014] 3 S.C.R. 82, at para. 14. Sources for the meaning of particular terms may include both dictionary and judicially constructed definitions: see R. v. C.D.; R. v. C.D.K., 2005 SCC 78, [2005] 3 S.C.R. 668, at para. 28.

[58] The purpose of the legislation is also central to the interpretive exercise. The OHSA is public welfare legislation “intended to guarantee a minimum level of protection for the health and safety of workers”: Dofasco, at para. 16. As such, provisions of the OHSA and its regulations must be interpreted generously and “[n]arrow or technical interpretations that would interfere with or frustrate the attainment of the legislature’s public welfare objectives are to be avoided”: Ontario (Ministry of Labour) v. Hamilton (City) (2002), 2002 CanLII 16893 (ON CA), 58 O.R. (3d) 37 (C.A.), at para. 16, leave to appeal refused, [2002] S.C.C.A. No. 146; see also Ontario (Labour) v. Quinton Steel (Wellington) Limited, 2017 ONCA 1006, at para. 19.

[59] A generous interpretation, however, should not be confused with a limitless one: Blue Mountain Resorts Ltd., at para. 26. While the OHSA aims to protect workers from both deliberate and inadvertent conduct, including accidents that result when workers make mistakes or are careless or reckless, it is important to remember that the OHSA seeks to achieve a reasonable level of worker protection, not an entirely risk-free work environment: Dofasco, at paras. 24-26; Ontario (Ministry of Labour) v. Sheehan’s Truck Centre Inc., 2011 ONCA 645, 107 O.R. (3d) 763, at para. 30.
. Reflection Productions v. Ontario Media Dev. Corp.

In Reflection Productions v. Ontario Media Dev. Corp. (Div Ct, 2021) the Divisional Court cited doctrine applicable to statutory interpretation:
[37] The Court of Appeal for Ontario recently reiterated the approach to be taken when engaging in statutory interpretation in R. v. Walsh, 2021 ONCA 43 at paras. 59 and 60:
It is trite law that the modern approach to statutory interpretation requires that "the words of an Act must be read in their entire context, in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament": Bell ExpressVu Ltd. Partnership v. Rex, [2002] 2 S.C.R. 559, [2002] S.C.J. No. 43, 2002 SCC 42, at para. 26.

The starting point is to determine the ordinary meaning of the text: R. v. Wookey, [2016] O.J. No. 4158, 2016 ONCA 611, 351 O.A.C. 14, at para. 24. At para. 25 of Wookey, quoting from Ruth Sullivan, Sullivan on the Construction of Statutes, 6th ed. (Markham, Ont.: LexisNexis Canada, 2014), Pharmascience Inc. v. Binet, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 513, [2006] S.C.J. No. 48, 2006 SCC 48, at para. 30, and Canadian Pacific Air Lines Ltd. v. Canadian Air Line Pilots Assn., 1993 CanLII 31 (SCC), [1993] 3 S.C.R. 724, [1993] S.C.J. No. 114, at p. 735 S.C.R., this court states that ordinary meaning "refers to the reader's first impression meaning, the understanding that spontaneously comes to mind when words are read in their immediate context" and is "the natural meaning which appears when the provision is simply read through". In other words, the "plain" or "ordinary" meaning of a word is not dictated by its dictionary meaning nor is it frozen in time.
. Powerhouse Corporation v. Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing

In Powerhouse Corporation v. Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing (Div Ct, 2021) the Divisional Court quoted authorities on statutory interpretation:
[51] The modern rule of statutory interpretation requires that “the words of an Act are to be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament”: Rizzo & Rizzo Shoes Ltd. (Re), 1998 CanLII 837 (SCC), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 27, at para. 21; ATCO Gas & Pipelines Ltd. v. Alberta, 2006 SCC 4, at para. 37. This rule does not extend to the ability to disregard the clear words of a provision in a statute in favour of a tortured construction, on the basis that the consequences of following the words of the statute would lead to absurdity: Bedwell v. McGill, 2008 BCCA 526, at para. 31; R. v. McIntosh, 1995 CanLII 124 (SCC), [1995] 1 S.C.R. 686, at para. 34. Rather, every word in a statutory provision is to be given meaning, and should be interpreted in a way that does not frustrate the plain meaning of the legislator: Young Men’s Christian Assn. of Greater Toronto v. Municipal Property Assessment Corp., 2015 ONCA 130, at para. 14. In my view, the focus and meaning of the words in s. 6(2)(h) is clear.
. Fratarcangeli v. North Blenheim Mutual Insurance Company

In Fratarcangeli v. North Blenheim Mutual Insurance Company (Div Ct, 2021) the Divisional Court considered basic rules of statutory interpretation:
Rules of Statutory Interpretation

[28] A court interpreting a statutory provision must apply the “modern principle” of statutory interpretation. Words of a statute must be read “in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament”: Rizzo & Rizzo Shoes Ltd. (Re), 1998 CanLII 837 (SCC), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 27 at para. 21, and Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership v. Rex, 2002 SCC 42, [2002] 2 S.C.R. 559 at para. 26, both quoting E. Driedger, Construction of Statutes (2nd ed., 1983) at p. 87. Parliament and the provincial legislatures have also provided guidance by way of statutory rules that explicitly govern the interpretation of statutes and regulations: Vavilov at para. 117.

[29] This “modern principle” has been adopted as the proper approach to statutory interpretation because legislative intent can be understood only by reading the language chosen by the legislature in light of the purpose of the provision and the entire relevant context: Sullivan at pp. 7-8. Those who draft and enact statutes expect that questions about their meaning will be resolved by an analysis that has regard to the text, context and purpose, regardless of whether the entity tasked with interpreting the law is a court or an administrative decision maker. Those who interpret the law – whether courts or administrative decision makers – must do so in a manner consistent with this principle of interpretation: Vavilov at para. 118.
. Di Sarra v. Ontario Association of Architects

In Di Sarra v. Ontario Association of Architects (Div Ct, 2021) the Divisional Court considered that the term 'or' may not imply an alternative meaning:
[32] Typically, the use of the word “or” between two other words indicates alternative meanings. However, depending on the context, this is not always the case.[6] I agree with the appellant that the words “tender or bid” in s. 43(1)(f) of the Regulation at issue here, is one of those situations in which the word “or” actually means “otherwise known as” – the words “tender” and “bid” mean the same thing. This interpretation is supported by the plain and ordinary meaning of the words “tender” and “bid,” as well as by the use of these words interchangeably in the case law. For example, Roget’s Thesaurus[7] lists “tender” as a synonym for “bid.” The Oxford Canadian Dictionary defines “tender” as “invite bids for (a contract)”. Similarly, it defines “bid” as “offer to do work (etc.) for a stated price”.[8] A review of the case law also shows that “tender” and “bid” are used interchangeably in the context of construction law. Ron Engineering is one example. Chippewas of Mnjikaning First Nation is another.
. Woods (Re)

In Woods (Re) (Ont CA, 2021) the Court of Appeal considers some basics of statutory interpretation:
[37] Whether the Board failed to observe a mandatory provision of the Criminal Code is a question of statutory interpretation. In Canada, it is trite law that the modern approach to statutory interpretation requires that “the words of an Act are to be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament”: Bell ExpressVu Ltd. Partnership v. Rex, 2002 SCC 42, [2002] 2 S.C.R. 559, at para. 26.

[38] The starting point is to determine the ordinary meaning of the text. The ordinary meaning refers to “the understanding that spontaneously comes to mind when words are read in their immediate context” and is “the natural meaning which appears when the provision is simply read through”: R. v. Wookey, 2016 ONCA 611, 531 O.A.C. 13, at para. 25; Pharmascience Inc. v. Binet, 2006 SCC 48, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 513, at para. 30; and Canadian Pacific Air Lines Ltd. v. Canadian Air Line Pilots Assn., 1993 CanLII 31 (SCC), [1993] 3 S.C.R. 724, at p. 735.

[39] After establishing an initial impression, the court must consider and draw inferences from the Act as a whole. This includes related provisions and the overall scheme. It is presumed that the legislature is competent and well informed, that it uses language consistently, and that the provisions in the Act collectively form a coherent scheme: Ruth Sullivan, Sullivan and Dreidger on the Construction of Statutes, 4th ed. (Markham: Butterworths, 2002), at pp. 162-63 and 186-87; Ordon Estate v. Grail, 1998 CanLII 771 (SCC), [1998] 3 S.C.R. 437, at para. 60.

[40] There is also a presumption against tautology: R. v. Gallone, 2019 ONCA 663, 147 O.R. (3d) 225, at para. 31. That presumption instructs “that the legislature avoids superfluous or meaningless words, that it does not pointlessly repeat itself or speak in vain”: Ruth Sullivan, Sullivan on the Construction of Statutes, 6th ed. (Markham: LexisNexis, 2014), (“Sullivan”), at p. 211, citing Attorney General of Quebec v. Carrières Ste-Thérèse Ltée, 1985 CanLII 35 (SCC), [1985] 1 S.C.R. 831, at p. 838. Instead, “[e]very word in a statute is presumed to make sense and to have a specific role to play in advancing the legislative purpose”: Sullivan, at p. 211.

[41] Finally, a court must situate its interpretation within the purpose of the legislation. Insofar as the language of the text permits, courts should adopt interpretations that are consistent with the legislative purpose and avoid interpretations that defeat or undermine that purpose. It is presumed that the legislature does not intend absurd consequences: Rizzo & Rizzo Shoes Ltd. (Re), 1998 CanLII 837 (SCC), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 27, at para. 27.
. Beaudin v. Travelers Insurance Company of Canada

In Beaudin v. Travelers Insurance Company of Canada (Div Ct, 2021) the Divisional Court considers basics of statutory interpretation:
[49] We agree with the Associate Chair’s approach to the statutory interpretation exercise in this case. It must always be remembered that the “rules” of statutory interpretation are not rules in the ordinary sense of having some binding force. They are aids to construction, presumptions or pointers. Not infrequently, one “rule” points in one direction, while another in a different direction. In each case one must look at all relevant circumstances. Different contexts may require different meanings: Bapoo v. Co-Operators General Insurance Company, (1997) 1997 CanLII 6320 (ON CA), 154 D.L.R. (4th) 385 (Ont. C.A.) at 396; Maunsell v. Olins, [1975] A.C. 373 (H.L. (Eng.)) at 382, per Lord Reid
. Pearce v. Canada (Staff of the Non-Public Funds, Canadian Forces)

In Pearce v. Canada (Staff of the Non-Public Funds, Canadian Forces) (Ont CA, 2021) the Court of Appeal reviewed basic principles of statutory interpretation:
[42] In Re Rizzo & Rizzo Shoes Ltd., 1998 CanLII 837 (SCC), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 27, the Supreme Court adopted the “modern principle” of statutory interpretation as expressed by Elmer Driedger. That principle stipulates that the “words of an Act are to be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament”: Rizzo, at para. 21; Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership v. Rex, 2002 SCC 42, [2002] 2 S.C.R. 559, at para. 26. See also Ruth Sullivan, Statutory Interpretation, 3rd ed. (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2016), at pp. 44-45. In the federal legislative context, Driedger’s modern approach is supported by s. 12 of the Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. I-21, which provides that every enactment “is deemed remedial, and shall be given such fair, large and liberal construction and interpretation as best ensures the attainment of its objects”: see Bell ExpressVu, at para. 26.

....

[60] The modern principle of statutory interpretation requires that the words of a statute be interpreted “harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament.” The legislative scheme includes the individual provisions, parts, and sections that work together to provide a plausible and coherent plan for the achievement of the statute’s intended purpose: Ruth Sullivan, Sullivan on the Construction of Statutes, 6th ed. (Toronto: LexisNexis Canada Inc., 2014), at §13.12. As described by Greshuk J. in Melnychuk v. Heard, 1963 CanLII 815 (Alta. S.C.), at p. 263:
The court must not only consider one section but all of the sections of an Act including the relation of one section to the other sections, the relation of a section to the general object intended to be secured by the Act, the importance of the section, the whole scope of the Act and the real intention of the enacting body.
[61] In some cases, the legislature may have enacted more than one statute on the same subject-matter or enacted a provision meant to be read alongside another statute. In Re Therrien, 2001 SCC 35, [2001] 2 S.C.R. 3, Gonthier J. explained, at para. 121, that “[i]nterpretations favouring harmony between the various statutes enacted by the same government should indeed prevail. This presumption is even stronger when the statutes relate to the same subject-matter.” The practice of considering multiple statutes in the interpretative exercise has also been codified in ss. 15(2)(b) of the federal Interpretation Act.

[62] An interpretation of the provision at issue that promotes the purpose is preferred over one that is not: Sullivan, Statutory Interpretation, at p. 53. As explained by Dickson J. in Covert v. Nova Scotia (Minister of Finance), 1980 CanLII 229 (SCC), [1980] 2 S.C.R. 774, at p. 807: “The correct approach, applicable to statutory construction generally, is to construe the legislation with reasonable regard to its object and purpose and to give it such interpretation as best ensures the attainment of such object and purpose.” The purposive analysis is a staple of modern statutory interpretation. It is not only used when the text under dispute is ambiguous, but “in every case and at every stage” of the interpretive exercise: Sullivan, Statutory Interpretation, at p. 185.


CC0

The author has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this Isthatlegal.ca webpage.