Dalhousie Law Journal


David Brown


Sex discrimination, pension, legal problems, statutory regulation


Legal problems involved in pension plans and the statutory regulation of pensions have been the subject of two recent articles in the Dalhousie Law Journal; Pensions: A Primer for Lawyers by Joel Fichaud' and Anne Malick's comment, Private Pensions - A Legislative Response - Nova Scotia Pension Benefits Act. 2 Sex discrimination in employment has also been well canvassed in this Journal in Elizabeth Lennon's article, Sex Discrimination in Employment: The Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. 3 The purpose of this note is to examine an issue at the nexus of these two subjects: sex discrimination in pension plans, principally that arising from actuarial differences in benefits and contributions for male and female employees. What forms does discrimination in pension plans take, is it unlawful or undesirable and if so, how is it to be remedied in Nova Scotia? Canada's solution to providing at least a floor income for all Canadians upon retirement has been called the three-tier system: old age pensions, the Canada Pension Plan and private employeremployee pension plans. The federal government through the Old Age Security Act 4 provides a pension to all persons aged sixty-five or over. The basic monthly pension is the same for all regardless of employment status or sex. In addition those eligible may receive the guaranteed income supplement, the amount of which depends on the pensioner's income and marital status. This plan provides the basic income floor for all Canadians aged sixty-five years or older. The Canada Pension Plan5 has been in operation since 1966. It provides a guaranteed pension to all employees in Canada, regardless of occupation, through compulsory contributions by employer and employee, collected by the federal government.