Joanne Fraser, et al. v. Attorney General of Canada

(Federal) (Civil) (By Leave)


Canadian charter (Non-criminal) - Charter of Rights, Right to equality, Pensions, Constitutional law - Constitutional law - Charter of Rights - Right to equality - Pensions - Pension buy-back - Job sharing agreements - Appellants opting to temporarily job-share when their children were young - Appellants denied opportunity to buy back their pension for period of time they did not work - Appellants alleging that pro-rated calculation of their pensions infringed their equality rights guaranteed by s. 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal dismissing appellants’ claim - What is the appropriate characterization of the appellants’ employment status, as regular Royal Canadian Mounted Police (“RCMP”) members who worked temporarily-reduced hours under job-sharing agreements? - Whether provisions of the RCMP pension plan, including ss. 5, 6, 6.1, 26 and 27 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. R-11 (“RCMPSA”), and ss. 2 and 10 to 10.10 of the Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Regulations, C.R.C., c. 1393 (“Regulations”), infringe s. 15(1) of the Charter, in that they operate to discriminate on the basis of sex and/or parental status by denying the appellants the right to accrue full-time pension benefit credit for periods when they worked reduced hours for family reasons - If yes, whether infringement a reasonable limit prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society under s. 1 of the Charter.


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The appellants are women and mothers who are former regular members of the RCMP. In order to care for their young children, they temporarily reduced their hours of work through a job-sharing program offered by the RCMP. The women’s pension benefits were adjusted accordingly and were calculated in the same fashion as those calculated for members who worked part-time hours. The women were not given the option of treating the period for which they did not work as pensionable time, even though individuals who opted not to work at all and who took unpaid care and nurturing leave were given the option of buying back their pension. The women allege that this pro-rated calculation infringed their equality rights guaranteed by s. 15(1) of the Charter. Specifically, they argued that the RCMPSA and the Regulations were discriminatory on the enumerated ground of sex and the analogous ground of parental status. The Federal Court dismissed their application for declaratory and other relief and the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.