More on the Expanding Jurisdiction of the CAT – Particularly in Relation to Animals

In the case of Martis v. Peel Condominium Corporation No. 253, the condominium corporation had passed a Rule to prohibit dogs.  The corporation had also prepared an “ESA policy” dealing with residents’ rights to have Emotional Support Animals (as exceptions to the Rule).  The policy included restrictions on the type and size of permitted Emotional Support Animals. 

An owner applied to the CAT for an order permitting her son to keep a larger dog on the grounds that this was a required reasonable accommodation under Human Rights law.  The condominium corporation then applied to dismiss the application on the grounds that the Tribunal does not have authority to decide a matter relating entirely to Human Rights law.  The corporation argued that the owner’s application could be decided without reference to the corporation’s Declaration, By-laws, Rules or policies, and accordingly fell outside the CAT’s jurisdiction.

The CAT dismissed the corporation’s motion and allowed the owner’s application to proceed.  The CAT said:

The request for an accommodation is being made in the context of the Pet Rule and the ESA Policy. I conclude that given the issues surrounding both the Pet Rule and the ESA Policy, this matter is properly within the jurisdiction of the CAT.

The bottom line is as follows:  If a dispute respecting a provision about animals (in a Declaration, By-law or Rule) also includes Human Rights issues, it appears that the CAT will also be able to address those Human Rights issues (as part of resolving the dispute, because it arose in the context of a dispute respecting animals). 

In such cases, a complainant might alternatively have the right to make a claim to the Human Rights Tribunal.  But the general rule is that there must not be “two claims covering the same issue(s)”.   So, if two proceedings are started (one at the CAT and one at the Human Rights Tribunal), it might be appropriate to “stay” (or suspend) one of the two proceedings (and either party might apply to the CAT or to the Human Rights Tribunal for such a stay).  This is something to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News to keep up to date on the latest developments on the CAT’s expanding jurisdiction!