19. Impact of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

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On all hearings

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has had a significant impact on the obligations and jurisdiction of the Board of Referees. Firstly, the Board carries an important responsibility as a representative of justice in the eyes of the public. It must adhere to the Charter in its demeanour at the hearing and in its written decisions. Simply put, there can be no breach of the Charter's prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability (section 15 of the Charter  ).

On hearings invoking the Charter

In some instances, an appellant may include a Charter ground or argument as one of the issues under appeal to the Board of Referees. For example, an appellant may argue that the provision of the Employment Insurance Act or Regulations leading to the denial of benefits is discriminatory and violates rights under the Charter. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the case of Tétreault-Gadoury ( SC No. 21222 case of Tétreault-Gadoury SC No. 21222) that the Board of Referees does not have the jurisdiction to consider arguments invoking the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and it vested the Umpire and federal and provincial court judges with this authority.