Public Service Alliance of Canada v. Sydney Airport Authority, (2015) 355 N.S.R.(2d) 275 (SC)

Judge:Gogan, J.
Court:Supreme Court of Nova Scotia
Case Date:January 08, 2015
Jurisdiction:Nova Scotia
Citations:(2015), 355 N.S.R.(2d) 275 (SC);2015 NSSC 38

PSAC v. Airport Authority (2015), 355 N.S.R.(2d) 275 (SC);

    1123 A.P.R. 275

MLB headnote and full text

Temp. Cite: [2015] N.S.R.(2d) TBEd. FE.014

Public Service Alliance of Canada (applicant) v. Sydney Airport Authority (respondent)

(Syd. No. 428419; 2015 NSSC 38)

Indexed As: Public Service Alliance of Canada v. Sydney Airport Authority

Nova Scotia Supreme Court

Gogan, J.

Febraury 3, 2015.


A union applied for judicial review of an arbitrator's decision dismissing an employee's grievance after he was denied vacation credits while on paid sick leave. The arbitrator agreed with the employer that the collective agreement did not permit an employee to accumulate vacation credits while on sick leave with pay.

The Nova Scotia Supreme Court allowed the application, quashed the arbitrator's decision and remitted the matter to a different arbitrator. The arbitrator's decision was unreasonable.

Labour Law - Topic 9354

Public service labour relations - Judicial review - Decisions of adjudicators, arbitrators, grievance appeal boards or officers - Unreasonable decisions - [See Labour Law - Topic 9549 ].

Labour Law - Topic 9549

Public service labour relations - Collective agreement - Vacation and holidays - Vacation credits earned while on paid sick leave - An employee was on paid sick leave - The collective agreement permitted employees to accumulate vacation credits for each month that they received at least 10 days' "pay" - The employee grieved the employer's denial of vacation credits for the period of time that he was on paid sick leave - An arbitrator dismissed the grievance - The Nova Scotia Supreme Court quashed the decision as unreasonable - The issue was whether "pay" was intended to include pay received while on sick leave - The arbitrator found no evidence in the collective agreement that "pay" was intended to include sick leave pay; that it was anomalous for an employee to accrue vacation credits while not actively at work - The court held that the arbitrator provided sufficient reasons to explain the basis for his conclusion and his "reasoning path" was sufficiently transparent - However, the arbitrator "preferred a policy choice over an interpretive exercise which resulted in an unreasonable conclusion" - The arbitrator asked himself the wrong question by focussing on the nature of "sick leave" rather than interpreting the plain meaning of the words in the collective agreement - The arbitrator did not consider "pay" in the context of all of the collective agreement - The arbitrator worked his way backwards from the desired result and did not carry out the required interpretive analysis to determine what the parties intended "pay" to include in the context of the entire collective agreement - The arbitrator erred in concluding that the plain meaning of "pay" was anomalous without considering the broader agreement - See paragraphs 39 to 86.

Cases Noticed:

Maritime Paper Products Ltd. v. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers' Union, Local 1520 (2009), 278 N.S.R.(2d) 381; 886 A.P.R. 381; 2009 NSCA 60, refd to. [para. 30].

Irving Pulp & Paper Ltd. v. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 (2013), 445 N.R. 1; 404 N.B.R.(2d) 1; 1048 A.P.R. 1; 2013 SCC 34, refd to. [para. 31].

Egg Films Inc. v. Labour Board (N.S.) et al. (2014), 343 N.S.R.(2d) 204; 1084 A.P.R. 204; 2014 NSCA 33, refd to. [para. 35].

Ryan v. Law Society of New Brunswick, [2003] 1 S.C.R. 247; 302 N.R. 1; 257 N.B.R.(2d) 207; 674 A.P.R. 207; 2003 SCC 20, refd to. [para. 39].

Granite Environmental Inc. v. Labour Relations Board (N.S.) et al. (2005), 238 N.S.R.(2d) 59; 757 A.P.R. 59; 2005 NSCA 141, refd to. [para. 39].

McConnell, Hopkinson, Wilson and Benjamin v. Douglas Aircraft Co. of Canada Ltd. and O'Shea, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 245; 29 N.R. 109, refd to. [para. 42].

New Brunswick (Board of Management) v. Dunsmuir (2008), 372 N.R. 1; 329 N.B.R.(2d) 1; 844 A.P.R. 1; 2008 SCC 9, refd to. [para. 44].

Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union v. Newfoundland and Labrador (Treasury Board) et al. (2011), 424 N.R. 220; 317 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 340; 986 A.P.R. 340; 2011 SCC 62, refd to. [para. 44].

Complex Services Inc. v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Local 278, 2011 CLB 14070, refd to. [para. 74].

DHL Express (Canada) Ltd. v. CAW-Canada, Locals 4215, 144 and 4278 (2004), 124 L.A.C.(4th) 271 (Can. Arb. Bd.), refd to. [para. 75].

Massey-Harris Co. v. United Autoworkers, Local 458 (1953), 4 L.A.C. 1579 (Ont. Arb. Bd.), refd to. [para. 75].


Andrew Astritis, for the applicant;

Eric Durnford and Isabelle French, for the respondents.

This application was heard on January 8, 2015, at Sydney, N.S., before Gogan, J., of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, who delivered the following judgment on February 3, 2015.

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