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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Coalition of Specialty Community Legal Clinics Granted Intervention at the Supreme Court of Canada in case about Public Interest Standing and Access to Justice

Toronto, ON – August 20, 2021 – The Coalition of Speciality Community Legal Clinics (made up of Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), ARCH Disability Law Centre (ARCH), the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), Chinese Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (CSALC), HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO), and South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO)) is pleased to share that it has been granted intervener status at the Supreme Court of Canada in an appeal raising important issues about the legal test for public interest standing.

Public interest standing is the mechanism by which public interest organizations commence litigation brought on behalf of groups of individuals. For many lower-income persons and persons from marginalized or equity-seeking communities, public interest standing is an important tool for access to justice. This is because individually, these persons often face complex and intersecting barriers to commence and sustain legal claims. Public interest organizations – through public interest standing – play an important role in advancing the rights of these persons.

The appeal is from the British Columbia Court of Appeal decision Council of Canadians with Disabilities v British Columbia (Attorney General), 2020 BCCA 241. The BC Court of Appeal upheld a broad interpretation of the test for public interest standing, consistent with the seminal decision Canada (Attorney General) v Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society , 2012 SCC 45. The Attorney General of BC pursued the appeal to the SCC, arguing that BC Court of Appeal’s decision has the effect of inappropriately broadening the test.

In this way, the appeal raises important issues about the application of the test for public interest standing and may have broad implications for access to justice. The decision in this case may impact public interest organizations that commence Charter challenges and claims that raise systemic discrimination on behalf of persons from marginalized and equity-seeking groups.

The Coalition’s submissions will focus on ensuring that the application of the test remains broad and purposive, with an interest in advancing access to justice. The Coalition will also make submissions about whether and in what circumstances a parallel claim in the same jurisdiction should influence the Court’s assessment of public interest standing.

More details to come. Hearing is scheduled for November 9, 2021.



Mariam Shanouda, Staff Lawyer
ARCH Disability Law Centre
Toll-free: 1-866-482-2724 ext. 2224
Jessica De Marinis, Staff Lawyer
ARCH Disability Law Centre
Toll-free: 1-866-482-2724 ext. 2232

August 20, 2021