Volume II, Issue I
The Kurvits Case
Benno Kurvits, a member of the Baptist Marathon Church, became employed by the Treasury Board in 1982. Soon after being hired, he requested that his union dues be transferred to a charitable organization because the tenets of his faith prohibited him from supporting employee organizations. Although the Collective Agreement between the Treasury Board and the Public Service Alliance of Canada provided for such a religious accommodation, the complainant's request was denied. This is because the Baptist Marathon Church did not meet the requirement of being registered pursuant to the Income Tax Act. This requirement, which was a guard against employees who might create make-believe churches in order to avoid paying union dues, had not foreseen churches such as the Baptist Marathon Church whose religious doctrine prohibited it from becoming associated with, or answerable to, the state. The Employer and the Union refused to make an exception for complainant, on the grounds that such an accommodation would disrupt the collective agreement and cost a lot of money, especially if other employees in similar situations followed suit. (Kurvits v. Canada (The Treasury Board) (1991), 14 C.H.R.R. D/469 (C.H.R.T.)).
Further information on religious-based conduct Policy on Creed and the Accommodation of Religious Observances, s.6 and 8.3