Cuddy Chicks Ltd. v. Ontario (Labour Relations Board)
,  2 S.C.R. 5, is a leading Supreme Court of Canada
decision on the jurisdiction tribunals
to hear constitutional challenges
of the tribunal's enabling statute.
The union of several employees of Cuddy Chicks, a chicken hatcher, filed a complaint to the Labour Relations Board that included a challenge of the constitutionality of the Board's enabling statute which excluded agricultural workers. The union claimed that the exclusion violated the right to freedom of association
under section 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
and the right to equality under section 15. Cuddy Chicks disputed the ability of the Board to consider constitutional issues.
The Board found that it was able to consider the issue by virtue of its requirement under s.24(2) of the Charter and 52 of the Constitution Act, 1867.
The Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the tribunal's authority to rule in constitutional issues of its enabling statute.
The Court outlined three factors to be considered before a tribunal can hear a constitutional challenge. First, it "must already have jurisdiction over the whole of the matter before it, namely, the parties, subject matter and remedy sought." Second, it the court must consider the nature of the tribunal’s expertise and specialization, and finally the court must consider whether the Attorney General of the Province will participate in the proceedings before the Board. The Court, however, limited this ability by denying the tribunal any power to strike down any part of the law. La Forest stated that "a formal declaration of invalidity is not a remedy which is available to the Board. Instead, the Board simply treats any impugned provision as invalid for the purposes of the matter before it.
This test has the same three criteria as the test for a "court of competent jurisdiction" under section 24(1) of the Charter, except here it does not matter if the tribunal is a "court" or not.
The Court further held that decisions of constitionality can be reviewed on a standard of "correctness".