More than 80 human rights applications were filed today against the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board for denying full survivor pensions to those who marry after they retire.

Members of the Ontario Teachers’ Survivor Benefit Group (OTSB Group), a decade-old advocacy group, filed the applications, which indicated that the plan is discriminatory. Also named in the complaint are the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, the co-sponsors of the pension plan.

According to the OTSB Group statement released today, while all teachers pay into the plan, not all are able to extend survivor benefits to their spouse.

The OTSB Group indicated that current plan rules only provide a survivor pension to a spouse who was married to the plan member when they retired. If a pensioner marries after retirement, he or she must take a permanent pension reduction in order to obtain a survivor’s pension for his or her spouse.

The reduced pension is permanent, even if the plan member outlives the spouse that he or she married.

“Equal contributions made during a career of teaching deserve equal benefits,” said Lois Maxim, who retired in 2003 after 29 years of teaching and contributing to the pension plan. “I shouldn’t be denied full benefits simply for having married later in life.”

Single when retired, Maxim subsequently married in 2008 and was shocked to learn that she would have to pay a penalty of hundreds of dollars per month to obtain a survivor’s pension for her new husband.

The group argues that teacher pension plans in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island provide survivor benefits for post-retirement spouses without penalty and that the Ontario plan should be doing the same.

Deborah Allan, director, communications and media relations, for Teachers’ said, “As far as pension administration goes, we do everything according to the  Ontari0 Pension Benefits Act.” Also, on the Teachers’ website there are clear instructions to plan members about what options are available to them should they marry once they have entered retirement.

Allan also confirmed that Teachers’ has what the plan calls the “G10” and is described in the plan documents as follows: “The G10 is provided automatically to members who are single when they begin to collect their pension and as an optional feature to members with an eligible spouse.”

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com
See all comments Recent Comments

Doug Chern:

I am surprised this would actually go to court as new retirees aslo pay a penalty (actuarial reduction for spousal protection). The plans that do offer the non reduced spousal pension for marriage after retirement should be checked for their solvency and how soon they intend to remove that clause. There are also provinces that do not allow the retired single pensioner to convert to a spousal plan at any cost.

Monday, May 09 at 4:35 pm | Reply

Anonymous:

This issue was already challenge through the Supreme Court of Canada in 1994, King and Sutherland v. Her Majesty, both plaintiff’s claims were dismissed. Here is the link to the court decision.
http://recueil.cmf.gc.ca/eng/1994/1994fca0304.html

Wednesday, May 11 at 2:19 pm

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