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Friday, March 4, 2011

Age Discrimination Against Widows Case Dismissed

Supreme Court Dismissed Widows Age Discrimination Appeal
Current federal government policies lower the amount of supplementary death benefits paid out to surviving spouses of public servants and military members, according to the age of the deceased at death. Two widows, Hazel Withler and Jean Fitzsimonds acting as representatives for 5,000 survivors, challenged this policy, and took their fight all the way to the Supreme court.
The high court, in its unanimous rejection noted public servants, are generally better equipped than most Canadians to meet the financial challenges of old age.
The preceding statement has absolutely nothing to do with this issue. To state that spouses of public servants are better off than Jill Q Public,
would have validity if they were arguing for public servants’ surviving spouses to be allowed to collect survivors supplements, not the age of the deceased.
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin compared the survivors’ benefits to life insurance, while Madam Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella. explained the benefits are not meant to be a steady income stream for older plan members.
The supplementary death benefit is paid over and above a survivors' pension to help spouses through immediate financial hard times following the death of a loved one.
If this is the case, why would the amount be decreased depending on the age of the deceased? Does the government think the older a spouse is when they leave this earthly realm, the less it will cost to berry them? Do they think it costs less for the spouse to pay for their living expenses, while waiting for legal matters to be settled? This line of logic makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to me.
The Women's Legal Education and Action Fund who  helped present the case on behalf of the two women argued the reductions constituted discrimination because most of the affected spouses were elderly women, who are “less economically secure” and who have throughout their lifetime “experienced systemic labour market discrimination, including pay inequity.”
I am in agreement with Lawyer Daphne Gilbert argument:
Women “at all ages” require transitional funding.
What do you think?
Read the original article  by MURRAY BREWSTER in the Globe and Mail  (Accessed Mar. 4, 2011.)

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