Withler v. Canada (Attorney General), (2008) 263 B.C.A.C. 257 (CA)

JudgeRowles, Ryan and Newbury, JJ.A.
CourtCourt of Appeal (British Columbia)
Case DateDecember 23, 2008
JurisdictionBritish Columbia
Citations(2008), 263 B.C.A.C. 257 (CA);2008 BCCA 539

Withler v. Can. (A.G.) (2008), 263 B.C.A.C. 257 (CA);

    443 W.A.C. 257

MLB headnote and full text

Temp. Cite: [2009] B.C.A.C. TBEd. JA.021

Hazel Ruth Withler and Joan Helen Fitzsimonds (appellants/plaintiffs) v. Attorney General of Canada (respondent/defendant)

(CA033785; 2008 BCCA 539)

Indexed As: Withler v. Canada (Attorney General)

British Columbia Court of Appeal

Rowles, Ryan and Newbury, JJ.A.

December 23, 2008.

Summary:

This was a class action brought to challenge s. 47(1) of the Public Service Superannuation Act (PSSA), s. 60(1) of the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act (CFSA) and their attendant regulations. These provisions created a "supplementary death benefit" which was paid on the death of a plan member to a named beneficiary of an amount equal to twice the salary of the plan member. However, once the CFSA plan member attained the age of 60, and in the case of a PSSA plan member the age of 65, the benefit payable began to reduce by ten percent per year to the date of death. The plaintiffs claimed that the impugned provisions violated s. 15 of the Charter.

The British Columbia Supreme Court, in a decision reported at [2006] B.C.T.C. 101, dismissed the class action. The court held that the plaintiffs had standing to bring the class action. However, the provisions did not constitute age discrimination under s. 15. The plaintiffs appealed. The Attorney General of Canada cross-appealed.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal, Rowles, J.A., dissenting, dismissed the appeal and the cross-appeal.

Civil Rights - Topic 928

Discrimination - Government programs - Pension legislation - This was a class action brought to challenge s. 47(1) of the Public Service Superannuation Act (PSSA), s. 60(1) of the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act (CFSA) and their attendant regulations - These provisions created a "supplementary death benefit" (SDB) which was paid on the death of a plan member to a named beneficiary of an amount equal to twice the salary of the plan member - However, once the CFSA plan member attained the age of 60, and in the case of a PSSA plan member the age of 65, the benefit payable began to reduce by ten percent per year to the date of death - The plaintiffs claimed that the impugned provisions violated s. 15 of the Charter (age discrimination) - The trial judge held that the comparator group was "all civil servant and members of the armed forces who received the full SDB, not reduced on the basis of age"- She closely followed the test in Law v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration) (SCC 1999) and concluded that "the supplemental death benefit was the part of a larger scheme comprised of group insurance and pensions designed to look after the changing needs of an employee as he or she remained in the workforce and then retired. At the younger ages, the supplementary death benefit provided a limited stream of income for unexpected death where the surviving spouse is not protected by a pension. At older ages, the purpose of the supplementary death benefit is for expenses associated with last illness and death. The comprehensive plan, while not a perfect fit for each individual, did not meet the hallmarks of discrimination given that it was a broad-based scheme meant to cover the competing interests of the various age groups covered by the plan" and dismissed the action - The plaintiffs appealed - The British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal - The trial judge made no error of law or fact that warranted appellate intervention - See paragraphs 145 to 186.

Civil Rights - Topic 929

Discrimination - Government programs - On the basis of age - [See Civil Rights - Topic 928 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 999.5

Discrimination - Employment - Pension benefits - [See Civil Rights - Topic 928 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 5658

Equality and protection of the law - Particular cases - Pension legislation - [See Civil Rights - Topic 928 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 5671.5

Equality and protection of the law - Particular cases - Government compensation programs - [See Civil Rights - Topic 928 ].

Government Programs - Topic 3867

Pensions for government employees or R.C.M.P. - Benefits and other sums payable - Supplementary death benefit plan - [See Civil Rights - Topic 928 ].

Cases Noticed:

Benner v. Canada (Secretary of State), [1997] 1 S.C.R. 358; 208 N.R. 81; 143 D.L.R.(4th) 577, refd to. [para. 7].

R. v. Kapp (J.M.) et al. (2008), 376 N.R. 1; 256 B.C.A.C. 75; 431 W.A.C. 75; 294 D.L.R.(4th) 1; 2008 SCC 41, refd to. [paras. 13, 154].

Law v. Minister of Employment and Immigration, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 497; 236 N.R. 1; 170 D.L.R.(4th) 1, refd to. [paras. 23, 151].

Hodge v. Canada (Minister of Human Resources Development), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 357; 326 N.R. 201; 2004 SCC 65, refd to. [para. 38].

Hislop et al. v. Canada (Attorney General), [2007] 1 S.C.R. 429; 358 N.R. 197; 222 O.A.C. 324; 2007 SCC 10, affing. (2004), 192 O.A.C. 331; 73 O.R.(3d) 685; 246 D.L.R.(4th) 644 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 39].

Lovelace v. Ontario - see Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and Allies et al. v. Ontario et al.

Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and Allies et al. v. Ontario et al., [2000] 1 S.C.R. 950; 255 N.R. 1; 134 O.A.C. 201; 2000 SCC 37, refd to. [para. 40].

Workers' Compensation Board (N.S.) v. Martin et al., [2003] 2 S.C.R. 504; 310 N.R. 22; 217 N.S.R.(2d) 301; 683 A.P.R. 301; 2003 SCC 54, refd to. [para. 41].

Tétrault-Gadoury v. Canada Employment and Immigration Commission, [1991] 2 S.C.R. 22; 126 N.R. 1; 81 D.L.R.(4th) 358, refd to. [para. 53].

Egan and Nesbit v. Canada, [1995] 2 S.C.R. 513; 182 N.R. 161; 124 D.L.R.(4th) 609, refd to. [para. 53].

Lavoie et al. v. Canada et al., [2002] 1 S.C.R. 769; 284 N.R. 1; 2002 SCC 23, refd to. [para. 57].

Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (Attorney General), [2004] 1 S.C.R. 76; 315 N.R. 201; 183 O.A.C. 1; 2004 SCC 4, refd to. [para. 57].

Corbiere et al. v. Canada (Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs) et al., [1999] 2 S.C.R. 203; 239 N.R. 1; 173 D.L.R.(4th) 1, refd to. [para. 61].

Gosselin v. Québec (Procureur général), [2002] 4 S.C.R. 429; 298 N.R. 1; 2002 SCC 84, refd to. [para. 61].

Granovsky v. Minister of Employment and Immigration, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 703; 253 N.R. 329; 2000 SCC 28, refd to. [para. 73].

M. v. H., [1999] 2 S.C.R. 3; 238 N.R. 179; 121 O.A.C. 1; 171 D.L.R.(4th) 577, refd to. [para. 77].

Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 143; 91 N.R. 255; 56 D.L.R.(4th) 1, refd to. [paras. 83, 155].

Vriend et al. v. Alberta, [1998] 1 S.C.R. 493; 224 N.R. 1; 212 A.R. 237; 168 W.A.C. 237; 156 D.L.R.(4th) 385, refd to. [para. 83].

Falkiner v. Director of Income Maintenance (Ont.) et al. (2002), 159 O.A.C. 135; 59 O.R.(3d) 481; 212 D.L.R.(4th) 633 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 86].

Margolis et al. v. Canada (2001), 201 F.T.R. 55; 2001 FCT 85, refd to. [paras. 93, 149].

R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103; 65 N.R. 87; 14 O.A.C. 335; 26 D.L.R.(4th) 200, refd to. [para. 98].

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. v. Dagenais et al., [1994] 3 S.C.R. 835; 175 N.R. 1; 76 O.A.C. 81; 120 D.L.R.(4th) 12, refd to. [para. 98].

Newfoundland (Treasury Board) v. Newfoundland Association of Public Employees, [2004] 3 S.C.R. 381; 326 N.R. 25; 242 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 113; 719 A.P.R. 113; 2004 SCC 66, refd to. [para. 101].

RJR-MacDonald Inc. et Imperial Tobacco Ltd. v. Canada (Procureur général), [1995] 3 S.C.R. 199; 187 N.R. 1; 127 D.L.R.(4th) 1, refd to. [para. 101].

Thomson Newspapers Co. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 877; 226 N.R. 1; 109 O.A.C. 201; 159 D.L.R.(4th) 385, refd to. [para. 104].

R. v. Butler and McCord, [1992] 1 S.C.R. 452; 134 N.R. 81; 78 Man.R.(2d) 1; 16 W.A.C. 1; 89 D.L.R.(4th) 449, refd to. [para. 104].

Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Québec (Procureur général), [1989] 1 S.C.R. 927; 94 N.R. 167; 24 Q.A.C. 2; 58 D.L.R.(4th) 577, refd to. [para. 104].

R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295; 58 N.R. 81; 60 A.R. 161; 18 D.L.R.(4th) 321, refd to. [para. 106].

Health Services and Support - Facilities Subsector Bargaining Association et al. v. British Columbia, [2007] 2 S.C.R. 391; 363 N.R. 226; 242 B.C.A.C. 1; 400 W.A.C. 1; 2007 SCC 27, refd to. [para. 107].

Reference Re Remuneration of Judges of the Provincial Court (P.E.I.), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 3; 217 N.R. 1; 206 A.R. 1; 156 W.A.C. 1; 121 Man.R.(2d) 1; 158 W.A.C. 1; 156 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 1; 483 A.P.R. 1; 150 D.L.R.(4th) 577, refd to. [para. 109].

Singh v. Minister of Employment and Immigration, [1985] 1 S.C.R. 177; 58 N.R. 1; 17 D.L.R.(4th) 422, refd to. [para. 109].

Schachter v. Canada et al., [1992] 2 S.C.R. 679; 139 N.R. 1; 93 D.L.R.(4th) 1, refd to. [para. 117].

Eldridge et al. v. British Columbia (Attorney General) et al., [1997] 3 S.C.R. 624; 218 N.R. 161; 96 B.C.A.C. 81; 155 W.A.C. 81; 151 D.L.R.(4th) 577, refd to. [para. 118].

McKinney v. University of Guelph et al., [1990] 3 S.C.R. 229; 118 N.R. 1; 45 O.A.C. 1; 76 D.L.R.(4th) 545, refd to. [para. 131].

Auton et al. v. British Columbia (Minister of Health) et al., [2004] 3 S.C.R. 657; 327 N.R. 1; 206 B.C.A.C. 1; 338 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 168].

R. v. Perka, Nelson, Hines and Johnson, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 232; 55 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 185].

Kehler et al. v. Surrey (District) and Vollrath (1992), 16 B.C.A.C. 231; 28 W.A.C. 231; 70 B.C.L.R.(2d) 381 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 185].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Forces Superannuation Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-17, sect. 60(1) [para. 21].

Public Service Superannuation Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-36, sect. 47(1) [para. 19].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Hogg, Peter W., Constitutional Law of Canada (5th Ed. 2007), § 38.9(a) [paras. 111, 112, 124].

Johnson, Alyn James, Abdicating Responsibility: The Unprincipled use of Deference in Lavoie v. Canada (2004), 42 Alta. L. Rev. 561, generally [para. 134].

Sherrin, C., Objectionable Objectives?: An Analysis of the First Branch of the Oakes Test (1994), p. 137 [para. 112].

Counsel:

J. Arvay, Q.C., and J. Kleefeld, for the appellants;

D.J. Rennie, D. Yurka, K. Hucal and W. Divoky, for the respondent.

This appeal and cross-appeal were heard on September 6 and 7, 2008, at Vancouver, B.C., by Rowles, Ryan and Newbury, JJ.A., of the British Columbia Court of Appeal. The judgment of the Court of Appeal was delivered on December 23, 2008, and included the following opinions:

Rowles, J.A., dissenting - see paragraphs 1 to 144;

Ryan, J.A. (Newbury, J.A., concurring) - see paragraphs 145 to 186.

To continue reading

Request your trial
11 practice notes
  • Saskatchewan v Good Spirit School Division No. 204, 2020 SKCA 34
    • Canada
    • Court of Appeal (Saskatchewan)
    • March 25, 2020
    ...of Appeal, regarding the need to avoid isolating one aspect of a comprehensive insurance scheme (Withler v Canada (Attorney General), 2008 BCCA 539, 302 DLR (4th) 193): [181] This case demonstrates the difficulty that arises when one attempts to isolate for criticism a single aspect of a co......
  • Year in review: developments in Canadian law in 2008.
    • Canada
    • University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review Vol. 67 No. 2, March 2009
    • March 22, 2009
    ...1 S.C.R. 143 [Andrews]. (534) This is also how lower courts have interpreted the decision: see Witbler v. Canada (Attorney General), 2008 BCCA 539. (535) Lovelace v. Ontario, 2000 SCC 37 (536) Societe des Acadiens et Acadiennes du Nouveau-Brunswick Inc. v. Canada, 2008 SCC 15 [SAANB]. (537)......
  • Withler v. Canada (Attorney General), [2011] N.R. TBEd. MR.002
    • Canada
    • Canada (Federal) Supreme Court (Canada)
    • March 17, 2010
    ...The Attorney General of Canada cross-appealed. The British Columbia Court of Appeal, Rowles, J.A., dissenting, in a decision reported at 263 B.C.A.C. 257; 443 W.A.C. 257, dismissed the appeal and the cross-appeal. The plaintiffs The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal. Civil Rights......
  • Withler v. Canada (Attorney General), (2011) 412 N.R. 149 (SCC)
    • Canada
    • Canada (Federal) Supreme Court (Canada)
    • March 17, 2010
    ...The Attorney General of Canada cross-appealed. The British Columbia Court of Appeal, Rowles, J.A., dissenting, in a decision reported at 263 B.C.A.C. 257; 443 W.A.C. 257, dismissed the appeal and the cross-appeal. The plaintiffs The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal. Civil Rights......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Saskatchewan v Good Spirit School Division No. 204, 2020 SKCA 34
    • Canada
    • Court of Appeal (Saskatchewan)
    • March 25, 2020
    ...of Appeal, regarding the need to avoid isolating one aspect of a comprehensive insurance scheme (Withler v Canada (Attorney General), 2008 BCCA 539, 302 DLR (4th) 193): [181] This case demonstrates the difficulty that arises when one attempts to isolate for criticism a single aspect of a co......
  • Withler v. Canada (Attorney General), [2011] N.R. TBEd. MR.002
    • Canada
    • Canada (Federal) Supreme Court of Canada
    • March 17, 2010
    ...The Attorney General of Canada cross-appealed. The British Columbia Court of Appeal, Rowles, J.A., dissenting, in a decision reported at 263 B.C.A.C. 257; 443 W.A.C. 257, dismissed the appeal and the cross-appeal. The plaintiffs The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal. Civil Rights......
  • Withler v. Canada (Attorney General), (2011) 412 N.R. 149 (SCC)
    • Canada
    • Canada (Federal) Supreme Court of Canada
    • March 17, 2010
    ...The Attorney General of Canada cross-appealed. The British Columbia Court of Appeal, Rowles, J.A., dissenting, in a decision reported at 263 B.C.A.C. 257; 443 W.A.C. 257, dismissed the appeal and the cross-appeal. The plaintiffs The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal. Civil Rights......
  • Withler v. Canada (Attorney General), (2011) 300 B.C.A.C. 120 (SCC)
    • Canada
    • Canada (Federal) Supreme Court of Canada
    • March 17, 2010
    ...The Attorney General of Canada cross-appealed. The British Columbia Court of Appeal, Rowles, J.A., dissenting, in a decision reported at 263 B.C.A.C. 257; 443 W.A.C. 257, dismissed the appeal and the cross-appeal. The plaintiffs The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal. Civil Rights......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • Year in review: developments in Canadian law in 2008.
    • Canada
    • University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review Vol. 67 No. 2, March 2009
    • March 22, 2009
    ...1 S.C.R. 143 [Andrews]. (534) This is also how lower courts have interpreted the decision: see Witbler v. Canada (Attorney General), 2008 BCCA 539. (535) Lovelace v. Ontario, 2000 SCC 37 (536) Societe des Acadiens et Acadiennes du Nouveau-Brunswick Inc. v. Canada, 2008 SCC 15 [SAANB]. (537)......
  • The continual reinvention of section 15 of the Charter.
    • Canada
    • University of New Brunswick Law Journal No. 64, January 2013
    • January 1, 2013
    ...(Litigation guardian of) v Ontario (Health Insurance Plan, General Manager), [2009] OJ No 140 (SCJ) at para 104; Withler v Canada (AG), 2008 BCCA 539 at para 155; Confederation des syndicats nationaux c Quebec (PG), 2008 QCCS 5076 at paras 326-27; and Downey v Nova Scotia (Workers' Comp......
  • B.C. Health Services: the legacy after 18 months.
    • Canada
    • University of New Brunswick Law Journal No. 59, January 2009
    • January 1, 2009
    ...referring to B.C. Health Services at para. 148 that the step is 'not particularly onerous') and Withler v. Canada (Attorney General), 2008 BCCA 539 (CanLII) (re statement of legislative objective referring to B.C. Health Services, para. Three judgments of the Quebec Court of Appeal released......
  • Section 15 and the Oakes test: the slippery slope of contextual analysis.
    • Canada
    • Ottawa Law Review Vol. 43 No. 3, December 2012
    • December 30, 2012
    ...19, 84 OR (3d) 1. (133) 2007 ONCA 787, 88 OR (3d) 600. (134) 2007 ONCA 852, 88 OR (3d) 408. (135) 2007 QCCA 1087, [2007] RJQ 1773. (136) 2008 BCCA 539, 302 DLR (4th) 193. (137) 2008 FCA 190, [2008] 4 CTC 245. (138) 2008 MBCA 28, 290 DLR (4th) 475. (139) 2008 NSCA 65,267 NSR (2d) 364. (140) ......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT