The Supreme Court of Canada has ordered the province to pay the families of two Ottawa-area university students $50,000 in back-pay and damages after finding they were improperly classified as degree marketers.
In a 5-2 decision issued Thursday, the court rejected a lawyer’s argument that the term “degree marketer” is too vague to encompass the activities of university graduates.
The ruling means that, for now, the two students will be paid in full.
Justice Charles Macdonald said the “classification of a degree marketer as a job, rather than a profession, is arbitrary and capricious.”
He said a job should be defined by a job title and not by the job of a person.
“The law must be fair and just,” he wrote.
The case is one of a string of lawsuits filed against the province in recent years over how to classify graduate degrees.
In the end, the government settled with the two in 2011.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the definition of a bachelor of arts or doctor of medicine does not include “an academic position in the field of medicine or nursing.”
The court also found that the provincial definition of “medical or scientific professional” was too broad.
The decision to settle with the university students, who worked for the University of Ottawa and the University de Montréal, came after a two-year legal battle that involved numerous groups representing the students.
The two were not named in the court decision but have filed a separate lawsuit against the provincial government.
They allege the province discriminated against them when it passed the new classification rules in 2017.
The university and university de Montroual have said the new rules were not intended to apply to the two.