News Release – Supreme Court of Canada Decision Confirms the Test on Public Interest Standing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A Coalition of Specialty Legal Clinics comprised of Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, the ARCH Disability Law Centre, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario and the South Asian Legal Clinic Ontario intervened in this matter and were represented by ARCH Disability Law Centre.
Toronto, ON – June 23, 2022 – The Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in British Columbia (Attorney General) v. Council of Canadians with Disabilities, 2022 SCC 27 providing clarification on the test for public interest standing.
In a unanimous decision delivered by Chief Justice Wagner, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that its earlier decision in Canada (Attorney General) v. Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society, 2012 SCC 45 remains the governing authority on the test for public interest standing. In particular, courts must assess and weigh three factors in a cumulative and purposive manner when deciding whether to grant or deny public interest standing. Over and above this, courts must also turn their minds to the purposes that justify granting standing – this includes giving effect to the principle of legality and ensuring access to justice.
In clarifying the more concrete aspects of the public interest standing test, the Supreme Court of Canada emphasized that an individual plaintiff is not always required to advance a constitutional challenge nor is a public interest organization expected to explain the absence of an individual plaintiff.
“This is an important finding and outcome that ensures that speciality and community legal clinics can continue to do the important and valuable systemic work that they do on behalf of their low-income and marginalized client communities”, said Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director of ARCH Disability Law Centre.
“We are pleased with the outcome of the decision today,” says Dania Majid, Staff Lawyer at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO). “The court system is inaccessible to low-income or other marginalized communities. Preserving access to public interest litigation ensures those who are directly impacted by court decisions will continue to have their voices heard.”
The Coalition of Speciality Legal Clinics congratulates the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) on the outcome in this matter. Disability communities will greatly benefit from this decision as it enables the CCD to continue its litigation challenging legislation that violates the rights of persons with mental health disabilities.
Mariam Shanouda, Staff Lawyer Gabriel Reznick, Staff Lawyer
ARCH Disability Law Centre ARCH Disability Law Centre
Toll-free: 1-866-482-2724 ext. 2224 Toll-free: 1-866-482-8255 ext. 2223
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Genrys Goodchild, Communications and Public Affairs Specialist
Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario
Toll-free: 1-866-245-4182 ext.5170