Thursday, January 24, 2008

SCC Denies Leave to Appeal Adoptive Mom's EI Parental Benefit Denial

The Supreme Court of Canada today refused adoptive mother Patti Tomasson's application for leave to appeal the denial of her claim for EI Parental Benefits.

Eugene Meehan reports:

CHARTER: EQUALITY; MATERNITY AND PARENTAL BENEFITSUnder the federal Employment Insurance Act , a biological mother can combine 15 weeks of maternity benefits with 35 weeks of parental benefits, allowing her to spend a total 50 weeks with her newborn child, while adoptive parents are limited to 35 weeks of parental benefits. After adopting each of her two children, Patti Tomasson applied to the Employment Insurance Commission for maternity benefits and parental benefits and on both occasions she was granted parental benefits but denied maternity benefits. She appealed the Commission’s respective decisions to the Board of Referees which upheld the Commission’s decisions. Ms. Tomasson then challenged the constitutionality of the legislation in an appeal to an umpire, alleging the provisions of the Act discriminated against adoptive mothers within the meaning of s. 15 of the Charter. The umpire appointed under the Act dismissed Ms. Tomasson’s challenge to the legislation on the basis that the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Schafer v. Canada (Attorney General) (1997), 149 D.L.R. (4th) 705 (leave to appeal to the S.C.C. denied January 29, 1998), was binding. The Federal C.A. dismissed Ms. Tomasson’s application for judicial review of the Umpire’s decision.Patti Tomasson v. Attorney General of Canada (Fed. C.A., August 9, 2007)(32298) "with costs."

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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