Magazine article Anglican Journal

Pension Debate Expected: Same-Sex Pension Ruling on Agenda

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Pension Debate Expected: Same-Sex Pension Ruling on Agenda

Article excerpt

KATHY BLAIR

STAFF WRITER

The Anglican Church may soon extend pension survivor benefits to same-sex spouses of national church staff and clergy, just as it has done in the area of benefits.

The issue is on the agenda at this month's meeting of the pensions advisory committee and will also be discussed at next month's pensions committee meeting.

The chairman of the pension committee, Bishop Bob Townshend of the Diocese of Huron, expects another strenuous debate just like the one that went on before a decision was made to extend health care benefits two years ago. A pension-plan member had asked the church to amend its policy to include same-sex partners.

"It was a major debate, the same as is going on within the church right now," Bishop Townshend said, alluding to the ongoing debate over homosexuality.

Pension benefits would have been extended two years ago as well, he said, but for the Revenue Canada definition which limited spouses to opposite-sex partners. Any pension plans which offered benefits to same-sex spouses were not permitted to be registered. It is registration which allows for the tax deductibility of contributions for both employers and employees.

But that all changed when Ontario's Court of Appeal declared the Revenue Canada definition unconstitutional in April. Two months later, the federal government announced it would not appeal that court decision.

The government also announced it is prepared to extend pension benefits to same-sex partners of civil servants. …

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