The Supreme Court of Canada is seen at sunset in Ottawa, Tuesday Sept. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Supreme Court of Canada is seen at sunset in Ottawa, Tuesday Sept. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Supreme Court of Canada sides with women in RCMP pension dispute over job-sharing

The women said the RCMP pension plan breached their equality rights under the charter

Women who took part in the RCMP’s job-sharing program while raising young children were unfairly denied the chance to bolster their pensions, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

In a 6-3 decision Friday, the high court accepted the arguments of three mothers who worked reduced hours on the national police force in order to devote time to their children.

The women said the RCMP pension plan breached their equality rights under the charter by denying them the benefit of accruing full-time pension credit for periods when they temporarily worked reduced hours for family reasons.

They pointed out that under the plan, RCMP members can accrue pensionable service during leaves of absence, such as maternity, sick or education leaves, provided the member pays both the employer and employee contributions for the leave period.

But members who temporarily reduce their hours of work see their pensions diminished, as they are not given the option of “buying back” full-time pension credit for the hours not worked.

Joanne Fraser, Allison Pilgrim and Colleen Fox, all now retired from the force, were unsuccessful in the Federal Court and in a subsequent appeal, but the Supreme Court agreed to hear their case.

In its decision, the Supreme Court noted nearly all of the participants in the job-sharing program are women and most of them limited their hours of work because of child care.

Justice Rosalie Abella wrote on behalf of the majority that full-time RCMP members who job-share must sacrifice pension benefits because of the temporary reduction in working hours.

“This arrangement has a disproportionate impact on women and perpetuates their historical disadvantage,” she said, calling it a “clear violation” of their right to equality under the charter.

The decision is “a huge win for equality and women in the workplace, and in the home,” said lawyer Paul Champ, who represented the women in court.

“When I called Joanne Fraser and told her of the win, her response was, ‘It’s about time.’ I couldn’t agree more.”

Abella said it will be up to federal officials to come up with the methodology to allow full-time members who reduced their hours under the job-sharing program to buy back their full pension credit.

But she said any measures should be in keeping with the court’s reasons and apply retroactively to give the claimants in the case, and others in their position, a meaningful remedy.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Donate
Castor organization helping charities shuts down after 29 years due to COVID-19

The Castor and District Community Chest came together for the first time on Nov. 21st, 1991

town hall
Town of Castor moves forward with utility bylaw amendments, consultation to follow

It is expected that the final readings of the amendment will be passed in December

County
County’s Stan Schulmeister acclaimed as reeve for fourth one-year term

“You do the best you can for as many as you can.”

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo by The Associated Press)
Alberta records 410 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

Most Read