Public Service and Canadian Forces Death Benefits

Branch MacMaster LLP and two other law firms, Giaschi & Margolis and Arvay Finlay, brought two class actions against the Government of Canada.

  • The Public Service Class Action concerns payment of death benefits to beneficiaries of federal public service employees.
  • The Canadian Forces Class Action concerns payment of death benefits to beneficiaries of members of the Canadian Forces.

Nature of the Actions

Both actions alleged that portions of the pension legislation governing payment of death benefits (the Public Service Superannuation Act and the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act) discriminated on the basis of age. The plaintiffs in the two actions say the legislation decreased death benefits for surviving spouses and other beneficiaries in a manner contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The plaintiffs sought to recover the unpaid benefits for themselves and for all class members.

Status of the Actions

On November 2nd, 2001, the Supreme Court of British Columbia certified both cases as class actions and ordered that Mrs. Ruth Withler and Mrs. Patricia McNaughton may act as representative plaintiffs in the Public Service Class Action, and Mrs. Joan Fitzsimonds may act as representative plaintiff in the Canadian Forces Class Action. Class certification allows a claim to proceed as a class action; it is not a determination of the legal issues or likelihood of success.

Judgment of the court on both the Public Service Class Action and the Canadian Forces Class Action was issued on January 19th, 2006, and the class claim was dismissed. View a copy of the judgment.

The appeal was argued on September 6th and 7th, 2007.

The B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed the class appeal which can be viewed here. Leave was granted to appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Canada. On March 4th, 2011 the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the final appeal in this case. View a copy of the judgement. This ends the action. We thank all class members for their support over the years of this litigation.

View the summary of the decision prepared by our Supreme Court of Canada agents.

Would you like to get in touch
with our lawyers?

Contact Us