Court declines jurisdiction

Dispute clearly fell within the provisions of the collective agreement
|Canadian Employment Law Today

Catherine LeMoine was employed by the Province of British Columbia’s Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) in June 2001 when she applied for long-term disability benefits. Ms. LeMoine alleged that she was permanently disabled as a result of the operation of glass crushing machines and possible environmental exposure to mould. Great West Life Assurance Company, which had been retained by LDB as its claims-paying agent, denied her application for benefits.

Ms. LeMoine brought an action against Great West Life for damages, charging that Great West Life acted arbitrarily, unfairly and unreasonably in denying her claim and breached its duty to act in good faith. She further argued that the decision of Great West Life was made to provide an economic benefit for her employer and was made jointly with the province as a policy decision in an attempt to lessen losses by denying valid claims.

Great West Life applied to the Court to have the claim dismissed on the basis that the Court had no jurisdiction. Great West Life argued that the matter should be dealt with under the terms of the collective agreement made between the government of British Columbia and the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union to which Ms. LeMoine was a member.