October 23, 2020
A pension case involving three former Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) women officers who claimed that the RCMP pension plan discriminated against women who job-shared was brought before the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) this month.
In a 6-3 majority decision, the SCC agreed with the former RCMP officers’ argument that the plan offended their equality rights under the Charter of Rights. Speaking on behalf of the majority, Justice Rosalie Abella called on the government to provide “the claimants in this case and others in their position [with] a meaningful remedy”.
Justice Rosalie Abella also noted that women who job share have been at a disadvantage in comparison to their male colleagues when it comes to pension plan equality.
“The negative pension consequences of job-sharing perpetuate a long-standing source of disadvantage to women: gender biases within pension plans, which have historically been designed for ‘middle and upper-income full-time employees with long service, typically male,’” she said.
Partner and chair of our Pensions and Employment practice Mitch Frazer told Benefits Canada that the RCMP wasn’t required to create a job-share program, but did so in order to create a work-life balance incentive for employees.
“As it turns out, something negative came out of that program. But the message is that if you’re a progressive employer and going to create work-life balance programs, make sure they don’t have disincentives for any group to take them up,” Mitch said.
Read more of Torys’ insights on Pension and Employment on the relevant practice page.