Surviving spouses should receive full benefit of their CPP contributions : Egale
Ottawa, March 2, 2007: The Supreme Court of Canada today released its decision in the Hislop case, reiterating that same-sex partners are entitled to equal survivor benefits under the Canada Pension Plan. However, the Court did not provide for full retroactive payments to individuals who lost their partners between 1985 and 1998. In these circumstances, the Court upheld government legislation limiting retroactivity to a maximum of 12 months (to August 1999).
Hilary Cook, Chair of Egale’s Legal Issues Committee and a member of its Board, characterized the decision as favouring “administrative efficiency over compassion”. “Losing your spouse is one of the worst experiences a person can have. In the wake of such a major blow, many people struggle to make ends meet. The fact that older people are affected only compounds the tragedy of this decision for those affected.”
Egale Canada is calling on the government to voluntarily provide the retroactive payments at issue in Hislop to those affected by the case. “The Hislop case concerns 1100 individuals and 400 estates where the surviving partner did not live long enough to see the outcome of this lengthy litigation,” said Tamara Kronis, Egale’s Director of Advocacy. “These people made their CPP contributions. The Supreme Court of Canada recognized that their rights have been violated. The government of Canada should do right by them and provide for retroactive survivor benefits in the upcoming spring budget.”
“In an era of multi-billion dollar budget and pension surpluses, refusing to provide survivor benefits to this relatively small number of people demonstrates a clear lack of compassion, especially given the fact that each of their partners paid into the Canada Pension Plan like any other Canadian,” added Kronis.
“It seems wrong in principle that the only recourse these survivors now have to receive the full pension benefits they paid for is to lobby the government. The Charter was in force during the relevant time period, and the courts at all levels have all recognized, not only that sexual orientation is a prohibited ground of discrimination, but they have also specifically ruled that the differential treatment of same-sex couples during this time with respect to pension benefits is discriminatory. You’d think that would mean people would get paid.”
For more information:
Tamara Kronis, Director of Advocacy, Egale Canada, 416-951-8765
Hilary Cook, Legal Issues Committee Chair, Egale Canada: 416-538-1647
Kaj Hasselrijs, Executive Director, Egale Canada: 1-888-204-7777
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