Rooke v. M.N.R. – TCC: Teaching/research assistantships at University of Waterloo were insurable and pensionable employment

Rooke v. M.N.R. – TCC:  Teaching/research assistantships at University of Waterloo were insurable and pensionable employment

Rooke v. M.N.R. (March 5, 2019 – 2019 TCC 52, Campbell J.).

Précis:   This decision involved EI and CPP appeals by Mr. Rooke who claimed that teaching/research assistantships he received at the University of Waterloo did not amount to insurable and pensionable employment.  Justice Campbell rejected his arguments and dismissed the appeals.

Decision:  The decision was not surprising:

[32]  At the outset of the hearing, the Respondent advised the Court that $4,000.00 of the total $12,000.00 amount at issue was a non-taxable scholarship amount, received in his capacity as a student. It is the balance of $8,000.00 that is at issue in these appeals.

[37]  Dr. Bonner [Professor and the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies in Sociology at Waterloo/ St. Jerome’s University] acknowledged the potential dual aspect of the funding that the Appellant received for his position as teaching assistant. Although the assistantship would be a learning experience for the student, the dominant purpose of the $8,000.00 funding amount was remuneration for services performed and not for student assistance. He was hired as a teaching assistant to assist one of the professors that taught much larger undergraduate classes of hundreds of students. Dr. Bonner confirmed that the work performed by the Appellant, like other teaching assistants, was essential to the Payer in balancing workloads among the professors.

[38]  While the scholarship portion of the funding package was conditional upon a student maintaining an 80 percent average, the conditions and goals associated with the balance of the funding amount were very different. As such, the funding amount paid for the work performed as a teaching assistant cannot be considered funds received primarily for the self-directed furthering of the Appellant’s educational studies.

[39]  In these appeals, the $8,000.00 funding amount was intimately connected to the Appellant’s work as a teaching assistant. There is a clear nexus between that payment and the work completed by the Appellant. In fact, Dr. Bonner, in his direct testimony, confirmed that if a student did not perform the duties of a teaching assistant, they would forego the funding. The facts support my conclusion that the dominant characteristic of the $8,000.00 funding amount received by the Appellant was to assist in facilitating instruction of the large number of students in Dr. McClinchey’s first-year sociology class and not to further the Appellant’s own education, although he may have received some secondary personal benefits from the work.

Accordingly Mr. Rooke’s appeals were dismissed.