Ontario Court of Appeal Overturns Finding of Charitable Purpose Trust
Charity & NFP Law Bulletin No. 473
Published on May 28, 2020

By Jennifer M. Leddy, Terrance S. Carter and Adriel N. Clayton

On May 5, 2020, the Court of Appeal for Ontario (the “Court”) released its decision in Friends of Toronto Public Cemeteries Inc v Public Guardian and Trustee. The Court allowed the appeal of Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries (“MPGC”), a special act corporation, and held that the application judge had erroneously interpreted a statute from 1871 that amended the trust and governance models of MPGC, making the appointment of its current trustees invalid. In addition, the Court overturned the application judge’s findings that (i) MPGC’s visitation centre and funeral home businesses exceeded its objects, and (ii) MPGC was a charitable purpose trust subject to the provisions of the Charities Accounting Act. In doing so, the Court denied the cross-appeal made by the applicants, Friends of Toronto Public Cemeteries Inc. and Kristyn Wong-Tam, affirming that an investigation by the Public Guardian and Trustee (“PGT”) into MPGC, which the PGT was never willing to partake in, was not required because the matter had become moot due to the Court’s findings, and also because it would not benefit the public. This Bulletin provides an overview of the Court’s decision, which is relevant to charities and not-for-profits (“NFPs”), as it clarifies the distinction between statutory trusts and charitable purpose trusts, in addition to reviewing the concepts of statutory interpretation, especially as they apply to archaic statutes dating back to the 1800s.

For the balance of this Bulletin, please see Charity & NFP Law Bulletin No. 473.

Read the May 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update