Justin Jakubiak and Bree Pierce, members of Foglers’ litigation group, successfully represented a family-owned trucking school before the Licence Appeal Tribunal in response to an immediate suspension order and a proposal to refuse to renew the school’s education program. After a grueling 7 day hearing the Tribunal ordered the Private Career Colleges Branch of the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to immediately lift the suspension and directed the Superintendent not to carry out the proposal.
The decision is particularly important and noteworthy as victories for registrants against the Ministry are few and far between. The result is life-changing for our clients as they can resume their family-owned business which has 3 locations in Ontario and employs dozens of people.
A summary of the case follows:
Our client is a truck driver training school which has been registered under the Private Career Colleges Act since 2020 with locations in Mississauga, London and Hamilton.
The Private Career Colleges Branch of the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (the “PCCB”) sent out two Superintendent’s letters, one in 2021 and one in 2022, to all trucking schools suggesting that there was an uptick in non-compliance with the Private Career Colleges Act. The letters warned that trucking schools would begin to see increased enforcement action. In stepping up enforcement, the PCCB bypassed their own “progressive compliance model”, which emphasized education before enforcement.A disgruntled former employee filed an unfounded complaint that led to a superficial investigation. This investigation led to an immediate suspension and a notice of proposal was issued to strip our clients of their registration.
The investigation, per the decision of the Tribunal, was replete with confirmation bias and unsupportable assumptions. It mischaracterized the responsiveness of our client and disregarded their efforts to work with inspectors and investigators to ensure compliance. The investigation was not adequately thorough to merit the suspension or the notice of proposal. In fact, the investigator was admonished for his “apparent haste to embrace” the disgruntled former employee’s “rather dramatic exposé”. The Tribunal Ordered that the suspension should be lifted immediately, the notice of proposal should not be carried out, and our client’s registration should be renewed with reasonable terms and conditions immediately.
The decision is a reminder to all registrants that regulators and government actors are not immune to making mistakes and government overreach is real. Legal advice should always be sought in response to complaints, discipline, charges or proposals levied against a licensee by their regulator. The regulator may be wrong (and in our experience often make mistakes).
For more information about this case, or if you have any questions about your licence or regulated business, please contact Justin Jakubiak at: email@example.com.