Mar 23, 2021

Summary of Charles v Saskatchewan Government Insurance

Charles v Saskatchewan Government Insurance, 2021 SKCA 11 (CanLII)
Statutes - Interpretation - Automobile Accident Insurance Act, Section 11.1, Statutes - Interpretation - Limitations Act, Section 5
The appellant appealed from the decision of a Queen’s Bench judge to dismiss his action against Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) (see: 2019 SKQB 316). The appellant argued on appeal that the chambers judge erred by finding that The Automobile Accident Insurance Act (AAIA) is not governed or limited by The Limitations Act (LA). The appellant was indebted to the SGI for various amounts incurred in 2008. When the appellant’s father died in 2017 as a result of a motor vehicle accident, the appellant was entitled to a death benefit from SGI. Relying on s. 11.1 of the AAIA, SGI deducted the appellant’s debt from the benefit. After commencing an action pursuant to s. 191 of the AAIA, the appellant then applied to the Court of Queen’s Bench for a determination on a question of law pursuant to Queen’s Bench rule 7-1 and asked the chambers judge whether the LA barred SGI from deducting the amounts under s. 11.1. The judge reviewed the pertinent provisions of each Act and decided that the Legislature had not intended s. 11.1 off the AAIA to be bound by the two-year limitation period set out in s. 5 of the LA, because to interpret the provisions otherwise would lead to an absurdity whereby SGI would be forced a pursue a claim for each amount owed to it within two years of a charge or premium arising. The issue on appeal was whether the statutory authority conferred on SGI by s. 11.1 of the AAIA is subject to the limitation period set out in s. 5 of the LA.
HELD: The appeal was dismissed. The appeal under the AAIA was limited to a question of law and, as the appeal involved statutory interpretation, it raised a question of law and the standard of review was correctness. The court found that the chambers judge had not erred in her decision. The court interpreted the two legislative schemes and concluded that SGI’s power to deduct funds under s. 11.1 of the AAIA is not limited by a limitation period under s. 5 of the LA. Although SGI cannot commence an action to collect such charges beyond the limitation period in s. 5, it can utilize the method provided by s. 11.1 of the AAIA to collect money owed to it. It also noted that s. 3 of the LA states that the Act applies to “claims pursued in court proceedings” initiated by statement of claim or originating notice, and s. 5 of the LA provides the two-year limit for the commencement of proceedings with respect to a claim. The term “proceedings” is not defined in the LA. The operation of the two sections confines the applicability of s. 5 of the LA to proceedings that are commenced by statement of claim or originating notice. Therefore, SGI’s exercise of its powers under s. 11.1 of the AAI is not a “proceeding” within the meaning of s. 5 of the LA.