Nation Huronne-Wendat c. Canada

AANDC - Funding cap - Pension plan benefits - Contractual liability - Comprehensive Funding Arrangements (CFAs)

The Federal Court of Appeal released a decision on November 13, 2014 in Nation Huronne-Wendat c. Canada [currently in French only], dismissing an appeal from the Conseil de la Nation Huronne-Wendat (the "Council") in its action for damages against the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The Council brought an action against the Minister following a decision in 2008 to cap funding for the pension benefit plans available to the Council's employees. The Council claimed that the Minister had contractual and extracontractual obligations to continue to fund the full amount of its contribution to its employees' pension plans as had been done from 1985 until 2008, and it sought damages in the amount of shortfall for funding between 2008 and 2013.

The Federal Court dismissed this action in a decision released in January of this year. The issues addressed in that decision included whether the Council needed to bring a judicial review rather than an action to address the impugned decision and whether the Minister had contractual or extracontractual liability to the Council as a result of alleged undertakings created by a policy approved by the Treasury Board and the Comprehensive Funding Arrangement ("CFA") for the Council. On appeal, only issues of whether the policy and CFA gave rise to contractual obligations or a warranty were addressed, and the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the Council's action on largely the same grounds as the Federal Court had.

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