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February 13th, 2018

NDP to remove discriminatory clauses based on age

Today, NDP MP Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe) introduced a bill to amend several acts that discriminate against seniors. The federal government currently denies surviving spouse pensions to the military, Members of Parliament, judges, employees of Crown Corporations, public servants and employees of the RCMP if the retiree entered a spousal relationship after age 60.

“'Gold-digger' legislation is simply archaic and unfair, especially given the fact that these men and women have devoted their lives to Canadian public service,” said Mathyssen. “The burden of caregiving most often falls on spouses, and disproportionately on women. It is disgraceful that after caring for their spouses, some caregivers are denied a pension when their ailing partners die. Bill C-397 will address this by eliminating legislation that denies surviving spouses pensions.”

For instance, in the case of the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act, legislation was enacted at the turn of the 20th century to prevent “deathbed marriages” or “gold-digging” – when women were accused of marrying veterans in order to get their pensions. The policy hasn’t changed and continues to have repercussions on families today.

“The change I wish to make concerns income equality, health and women’s issues. Right now, the families of veterans, judges, Members of Parliament, public servants, RCMP employees and employees of Crown corporations are at risk of living in poverty,” added Mathyssen. “Low income has a significant impact on health, notably by compromising other social determinants of health like food security, housing and social exclusion. The lack of these essentials, in turn, increases rates of mortality and morbidity.”