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WIDOWS’ WALK

BITTERSWEET VICTORY. Lawyer Douglas Elliott speaks to the press after the Supreme Court announcement on Mar 1. "I know that somewhere out there George is celebrating. Credit: Marcus McCann

Apr 11, 2000

The Canadian government changes the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) to include same-sex partners. Pensions payments are limited to people whose partners died after Jan 1, 1998.

November 2001

Class-action suits commence in BC and Ontario. The federal government faces allegations of discrimination and a push for retroactive payments from Apr 17, 1985 on, the date when queer Canadians were granted equality under the Charter Of Rights And Freedoms. Prominent gay rights activist George Hislop spearheads the case in Toronto.

Dec 19, 2003

Ontario’s Superior Court Of Justice rules that denying benefits to survivors whose partners died before Jan 1, 1998 is discriminatory and that widows whose same-sex partners died between Apr 17, 1985 and Jan 1, 1998 are entitled to pensions.

Jun 10, 2004

The federal government appeals to the Ontario Court Of Appeal. The government argues that it must be able to set its own payment dates.

Nov 26, 2004

The Ontario Court Of Appeal upholds the 2003 decision. Both the feds and widows appeal.

Jul 12, 2005

The federal government announces it will pay interim benefits to widows involved in the class-action suit pending the Supreme Court ruling, but that the money may need to be repaid in the event of a ruling against the widows.

Oct 8, 2005

George Hislop dies of cancer.

Mar 1, 2007

The Supreme Court Of Canada rules that to deny pension plan benefits to some surviving partners is discriminatory and unconstitutional under the Charter. The decision stops short of requiring full retroactive payments and requiring payments to the estates of widows who died before the trial began.