Mime’j Seafoods Ltd v. Nova Scotia (Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal)

In Aboriginal Rights/Defences, Employment Law, Fish Cases on (Updated )

This case involved judicial review of a decision of the Nova Scotia Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal that held that Mime’j Seafoods Ltd. was a employer for the purpose of assessments under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Mime’j Seafoods Ltd. was an aboriginal communal fishing management entity that was incorporated for the sole purpose of accommodating D.F.O.’s requirement that fishing licences be held by either a band or some other entity recognized by Canadian law. It was the owner of 12 fishing vessels used in the aboriginal fishery and holder of multiple licences granted under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Regulations. It leased vessels and licences to captains and deckhands for use in the fishery. It also underwrote the operating expenses, provided fishing gear and controlled the disbursement of the proceeds of the landed catch.

Although Mime’j was not asserting any aboriginal or treaty right (para. 5), it argued that because the Act provides no definition for the word "employed" it was necessary to go the the common law to determine whether or not the crews of the Mime’j vessels were employed (para 37-8). In doing so, the aboriginal world view would suggest that the "various fishers are engaged in a variety of separate joint venture operations" (para. 39).

After a detailed review of the principals of statutory interpretation and the applications of those principals to the Act, the court concluded that Mime’j was an employer under the Act without the need to resort to the common law. Consequently, it was not necessary to consider the aboriginal world view on the definition of employment.