Employment law in Nunavut: Exploring access to justice barriers in resolving workplace problems

Lead Author Gloria, Song
Institution Contact University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Graduate Studies 57 Louis-Pasteur St., Room 301 Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5 Canada
Theme Theme 2: Vulnerability of Arctic Societies
Session Name 2.1 The role of law and institutions in Arctic transformation process
Presentation Type Poster
Abstract text While there has been much discussion on economic development strategies for increasing employment opportunities for the residents of Nunavut, Canada's high Arctic territory, one important angle that has not yet been fully explored is whether workers in Nunavut can effectively resolve conflicts with employers within the current justice system. If a worker has an employment law claim, are they able to enforce their legal rights through the courts and tribunals?
This research reviews every published employment law case released from the Nunavut Court of Appeal, the Nunavut Court of Justice, and the Nunavut Human Rights Tribunal from April 1, 1999 (the creation of Nunavut) to September 30, 2015. Under this broad set of criteria, only a relatively small number of cases were found, raising the question of why so few employment law claims have made their way through Nunavut’s justice system. Less than a handful of these cases involved Inuit litigants, despite the fact that Inuit make up approximately 85% of the territory’s population. A critical analysis of the employment law jurisprudence suggests there are significant barriers that may prevent the people of Nunavut from accessing justice for their employment law claims, including access to counsel. If left unaddressed, these issues may act as an obstacle to the integration and retention of Nunavummiut (especially Inuit) in the workforce. This research paper concludes that efforts must be made to improve the civil and administrative justice processes in Nunavut, and that further research should be conducted on the experiences of Nunavut residents in their attempts to access justice.