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

Just Posted

Vetch cover crop beginning to flower. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Vetch and crimson clover to the rescue of soil fertility

I add dry organic fertilizer as plants use up what is in the soil.

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: A shift in perspective can sometimes change everything

Have you even been forced to wake up at 5:30 on a Saturday

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Most Read