Ontario Court of Appeal Affirms that University Discriminated by Relying Exclusively on Grades-based Admissions Standards Where Applicant’s Grades Resulted from Unaccommodated Disabilities

  • February 06, 2021
  • Anna Rosenbluth


Roch Longuéepée was a survivor of childhood abuse. He did not finish high school, but obtained his GED and later attended Dalhousie University for one year in 1999. He finished the year with an average below 60%. He was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury, both of which resulted from the childhood abuse.

He applied to the University of Waterloo in 2013. The university required a minimum average of 65% for transfer students, but Mr. Longuéepée advised that his grades were the result of disabilities that had been undiagnosed and therefore unaccommodated while he was at Dalhousie. He requested that the university base its admissions decision on other information, including reference letters and documentation of his volunteer work with survivors of institutional child abuse.

The university convened an Admissions Committee to consider his application. The Committee refused admission on the basis that Mr. Longuéepée's grades were too far below the minimum required average.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) rejected the argument that the refusal of admission was discriminatory, finding that even though Mr. Longuéepée  had established that the grades-based admissions standard was prima facie discriminatory, the University had reasonably accommodated Mr. Longuéepée's disabilities through the Admissions Committee.

On judicial review, the Divisional Court held that the Tribunal hadTRIBUNAL erred in finding no discrimination. Rather than remitting the matter to the HRTO, the Court ordered that the Admissions Committee re-assess Mr. Longuéepée's application for admission.