The Respondent school council was concerned about drug and alcohol abuse at the Respondent school. As a result, the Respondent school council became interested in introducing a detection dog in the school. The Complainant was a student at the school and had a serious allergy to dogs. The Complainant’s mother filed a complaint with the Yukon Human Rights Commission (“the Commission”). During this time, the school refrained from introducing the drug detection dog. The Commission dismissed the complaint after an investigation. The Complainant and her mother applied for judicial review of the decision. In the meantime, the Complainant applied for an injunction with the Supreme Court of Yukon (“the Court”). An injunction is an order from a court prohibiting a party from doing a specific act. In this case, the injunction would prevent the Respondent school board from introducing the drug detection dog until the judicial review and a possible hearing by the Board are heard.
The legal test for injunctions was outlined in the Supreme Court of Canada case RJR-Macdonald Inc. v Canada (Attorney General). It is made up of three steps:
- There must be a serious question to be tried;
- The applicant must suffer irreparable harm if the application were refused, and;
- The Court must consider the balance of convenience – and ask which parties would suffer greater harm from the granting or refusal of the injunction.
Firstly, the Supreme Court of Canada has stated that the threshold to meet the “serious question” test is a low. The Complaint needed to simply prove that the application was not frivolous or vexatious. The Court found that this was not the case. Therefore, the Court found that there was a serious question to be tried.
Second, the Court found that the Complainant would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction were refused. If the Respondent school council were to introduce the drug detection dog, the Complainant would have to leave her school. Therefore, the irreparable harm would be both the loss of the Complainant’s choice of school and potentially the denial of accommodation of a disability.
Third, the Court assessed the balance of convenience and considered which parties would suffer greater harm from the granting or refusal of the injunction. There are several factors that must be considered at this third step. In this case, the Court found that the overriding issue was public interest. As a private applicant, the Complainant needed to prove that there would be public benefits that would flow from granting the injunction. This case raised human rights issues that transcended the private interests of the Complainant. The Respondent school council had been working for years to address the drug problem at the school. The introduction of a drug detection dog would address the social and educational environment of the school in a positive way and in the best interests of the school and the community. The school had already refrained from introducing the drug detection dog. Waiting for the completion of a judicial review proceeding as well as any resulting human rights adjudication would not be reasonable as those processes could go on indefinitely.
Therefore, the Court dismissed the application.