Supreme Court of Canada Rules on Canada Pension Plan Survivor Benefits
On March 1, 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada released its judgment in Canada (Attorney General) v. Hislop. The unanimous panel of seven judges found that sections of the Canada Pension Plan Act that limited the right of same-sex survivors to claim pensions to those same-sex survivors whose spouse had died on or after January 1, 1998 infringed the equality provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It also found that provisions limiting back payments of pensions to July 2000 to be unconstitutional on the same grounds. The Court found, however, that terms limiting back payment of pensions to the 12-month period prior to the date the application for pension benefits was received did not offend the Charter.
As a result of this decision, same-sex survivors are now entitled to pension benefits under the Canada Pension Plan if their spouse passed away after April 17, 1985. Same-sex survivors can now claim these benefits but recovery of back payments will be limited to the 12 months prior to the date the application for pension benefits is received.
For additional information contact:
Nelligan O'Brien Payne LLP