A year ago, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Hinkson delivered a landmark decision regarding ocean finfish aquaculture.
In response to a constitutional challenge filed by fish-farming critic Alexandra Morton and others, Hinkson ruled that the provincial government did not have legal authority to regulate ocean finfish aquaculture.
But what does this mean for the rights of B.C. workers in this industry? Are they to be regulated by the provincial or federal governments?
That issue came before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal in a complaint filed by Annette Krawietz.
She has claimed that her employer, Marine Harvest (which is at the centre of Morton's court case), paid her differentially based on her sex.
If Krawietz proves this, the company will have violated the B.C. Human Rights Code. She worked in a dry-land warehouse, according to a recent preliminary ruling issued by the tribunal's chair, Heather MacNaughton.
In 1996, the B.C. Labour Relations Board ruled that it could deal with a union certification application in the aquaculture industry, even though the employer, Agrimarine Industries, claimed that this was an area of federal jurisdiction.
In 2009, Hinkson's ruling stated that it was ultra vires for the province to regulate ocean finfish aquaculture. At the the same time, this decision distinguished the "business" of fish farming from the term "ocean finfish aquaculture".
In the human-rights case involving Marine Harvest, MacNaughton concluded that "Marine Harvest’s labour relations, including attendant human rights protections, are not integral to the exercise of the federal authority over fisheries, and that the Tribunal has jurisdiction over the matters raised in Ms. Krawietz’ complaint."
She closed by stating that she will inform the parties if Krawietz's complaint is accepted.