Saturday, August 3, 2002 – Page A5
VANCOUVER -- The B.C. Supreme Court will allow a $380-million class-action lawsuit against the federal government by gays and lesbians for survivor benefits under the Canada Pension Plan.
Madam Justice Marion Allan found a class-action suit was appropriate to determine the issues raised by Eric Brogaard and Gail Meredith in their lawsuit against the Attorney-General of Canada.
"In the absence of a class proceeding, there could be a proliferation of individual actions seeking virtually identical relief," Judge Allan wrote in her decision.
And the cost of suing the government on an individual basis would preclude many legitimate claims, she wrote.
The lawsuit alleges that the federal government discriminates because while it collects CPP premiums from all Canadians, it denies survivor pensions to gays and lesbians whose partners died before Jan. 1, 1998.
Ottawa imposed that cutoff date in 2000, when it introduced Bill C-23 granting a variety of rights to same-sex couples.
Gays and lesbians say the date is arbitrary and without legal justification, denying survivor benefits to an estimated 10,000 gays and lesbians across the country.
A similar lawsuit has been launched in Ontario. CP