Enseignants de Langue Anglaise de Montréal. v. M.N.R. – TCC: Language instructors not engaged in insurable/pensionable work

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http://decision.tcc-cci.gc.ca/tcc-cci/decisions/en/item/97815/index.do New Window

Enseignants de Langue Anglaise de Montréal. v. M.N.R. (September 26, 2014 – 2014 TCC 287) was a decision dealing with 12 EI appeals and 1 CPP appeal (the worker in that appeal was also part of the 12 EI appeals). The workers were language teachers:

[34] The appellant company provides training in English as a second language to its clients as well as training in French as a second language. It may be that it also provides second language training in other languages.

[35] The company was originally founded by persons, including the two current owners of the appellant, who had provided language training to Bell Canada. In the early 1990s, Bell made certain budget cuts and language training was among the first cuts.

[36] Because there was still an interest in language training on the part of students, four of the teachers formed a partnership that continued to provide training.

[37] In 1994 the Government of Quebec took measures to promote employee training; because of the way these measures were structured, the members of the partnership concluded that it would be best to be incorporated. The appellant was incorporated in the mid-1990s.

[38] Generally the appellant modelled its mode of operation on what its founders had experienced when providing training for Bell.

[39] As the business grew, the appellant started to use teachers other than those who had originally been at Bell. All the teachers that they contract with are certified second language teachers.

The court found two aspects of the operation of the organization notable:

[68] First, the appellant’s name, Les Enseignants de langue anglaise de Montréal ltée, is in itself informative.

[69] The word “school” is not used in the name and, indeed, the appellant has no classrooms; it only has a small office.

[70] The clients were businesses. Training was done at the clients’ premises and, in one case, where the client operated the business from his car, classes were held at a coffee shop.

[71] Second, all the teachers in question were hired on a course‑by‑course basis. For example, they might be hired to teach an individual for, say, two hours a week for a total of 30 hours, or a company group of four persons for, say, three hours a week for a total 42 hours.

[72] There was no commitment by either the appellant or the teachers to keep contracting with each other.

The court concluded that the parties did not intend to create an employer/employee relationship:

[57] I am satisfied that, on balance, the contracts in themselves are somewhat more consistent with a contract for services than a contract of employment for these three reasons considered together:

(a) First, the choice of the terms “sub-contract” and “independent, self‑employed teacher” in no way suggests employment.

(b) Second, the fact that there was a separate contract for each course.

(c) Third, the general provision that the teachers were to bear their own expenses is more consistent with self-employment.

After a very thorough analysis of the other well known governing factors (157 paragraphs) the court concluded that the workers were not engaged in insurable or pensionable employment.