Vol. 34, No. 42 lawyersweekly.ca MARCH 20, 2015
You may not think you’re
a director, but CRA does
LABOUR & EMPLOYMENT
Options for employees
in a bankruptcy
‘Earn it before
your spend it’
BUSINESS & CAREERS
Small firms need to watch
where the money goes
B.C. appeal court refuses to halt
dementia patient’s spoon feeding
‘Principle of patient autonomy’ at issue, judges’ panel rules
rule clarity in
Employers generally must have
“legitimate business reasons” for
their non-unionized workers, and
should be “forthright” with
employees about those reasons,
the Supreme Court has ruled.
Justice Richard Wagner’s
March 6 ruling, in Potter v. New
Brunswick Legal Aid Services
 S.C.J. No. 10, is the top
court’s first major decision in the
law of constructive dismissal
since the leading case of Farber v.
Royal Trust Co.  1 S.C.R.
846. The ruling provides guidance on the two-branch Farber
test for determining whether a
constructive dismissal has
occurred, an issue that tripped up
the New Brunswick courts below.
Justice Wagner gives specific
guidance on how to do the two-step analysis, under the first
branch of the Farber test, for
determining (1) whether an
administrative suspension constitutes a unilateral change that
amounts to a breach of contract
and if so, ( 2) whether the
unauthorized administrative suspension can reasonably be perceived as having substantially
changed the essential terms of
The British Columbia Court of
Appeal has affirmed that a care
facility is required to continue
to offer food and fluids to a
woman in the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease, even though
her family says this contradicts
her previously expressed wishes.
Counsel said the March 3 ruling, in Bentley (Litigation
guardian of) v. Maplewood Seniors Care Society  B.C.J.
No. 367, is the first in Canada to
grapple with a novel issue that
that can arise when dementia
patients who can’t verbally communicate are also physically
unable to feed themselves: Are
caregivers obliged to offer such
patients nourishment — by
holding a spoon or a glass to the
person’s lips — despite statements the patients may have
made years earlier that they do
not want to be fed or hydrated
in such circumstances?
U.S. jurisprudence on the
point is scant and there was no
reported case law in British Columbia or the rest of Canada,
“Mostly the cases are the other
way—that is, they’re around
the issue of whether a medical
intervention is appropriate at
that stage of life,” said Penny
Washington, of Vancouver’s
Bull, Housser & Tupper.
Washington, counsel for the
respondent Fraser Health
Authority in Bentley, said the
cases are more often about fam-
ilies insisting on artificial tube-
feeding despite the patient’s
care team saying it is inappro-
priate at the late stage of the
In Margaret Anne Bentley’s
case, her family wanted her
care facility in Abbotsford, B.C.
Curbs, Page 2 Piper, Page 10
Toronto’s hugh Scher, co-counsel for the intervener Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and its B.C. affiliate in
a case involving spoon feeding a dementia patient, says the B.C. Court of Appeal has set out a bright line for
caregivers. Matthew Sherwood for the LawyerS weekLy
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