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

Langley resident Sean Nugent, who died in 2019 shortly he saved a swimmer from drowning, has been awarded a posthumous medal for bravery by the Royal Canadian Humane Association (Courtesy Nugent family)
Langley man who died after saving swimmer receives posthumous medal for bravery

Sean Nugent rescued woman from Hayward Lake near Mission in July of 2019

Postcard of Mission’s Bank of Commerce from 1911. Photo courtesy of the District of Mission.
Mission Community Heritage Commission seeking new team member

Commission helps District manage and implement heritage conservation planning

The Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation held its inaugural Grand Gala in November 2019 at Harrison Hot Springs Resort. This year’s event will be held online. (Submitted photo)
Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation holds virtual Grand Gala

Second annual event takes place online on Nov. 20, raising funds for local hospitals

Photo courtesy of Hope Central.
Mission’s Hope Central asking for donations for homeless before winter arrives

Items can be dropped off at the New Heights Church, or the Penny Coffee House

Carolyn and Steve Touhey came across a pod of humpback whales while on their boat Sunday, Oct. 25. Photo supplied
VIDEO: Boaters encounter pod of humpbacks in Georgia Strait

Pod spotted between Comox and Texada Island

It’s been eight years since Gordon Spencer (pictured), and cousin, ‘Lil’ Bruce Mayo, were gunned down in a home in Langley, and Spencer’s widow is hoping someone who knows something will step up (file)
Eight years on and still no answers in Langley double murder

Wife of victim makes public appeal for people with information to come forward

Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, wearing protective suits and working vacuumed a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Nest of ‘murder hornets’ found near South Surrey

String of traps set up along border to capture Asian giant hornets

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

The voting station mimicked a real voting station in Nicole Choi’s classroom at Chilliwack middle school on Oct. 22, 2020, where students had to show their ID (student cards), be checked off a list, and mark a secret ballot behind a screen. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. students choose NDP majority in mock election

More than 90,000 youth took part in school-based election process

Crew transport bus at the Trans Mountain pipeline project work site in Burnaby, March 2020. (Trans Mountain)
Check your workplace COVID-19 safety plans, Dr. Henry urges

Masks in public spaces, distance in lunchrooms for winter

Most Read