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June 4, 1998
Council approves providing same-sex survivor pension benefits for employees
  
By a 35 to 2 vote, Toronto City Council yesterday approved a resolution that
the City and its agencies, boards and commissions ensure that all employees,
particularly those with same-sex spouses, have equal access to survivor pension
benefits.

"Toronto is the most diverse city in the world," said Mayor Mel Lastman. "The
new City of Toronto will ask the Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement System
(OMERS) to change the current pension plan to reflect Council's decision,
confirming our position as a world leader in the most diverse city in the
world."

Councillor Kyle Rae moved the motion accepted by Council, which also recommends
to OMERS that it similarly amend its pension bylaws. "For years, lesbian and
gay employees have been required to pay into pension plans they have never had
the same access to as their heterosexual colleagues," says Rae. "While large
pension plans have been declaring surpluses, lesbians and gays who have paid
into these plans have not been able to extend financial protection to their
loved ones on retirement or death. I am thrilled this practice has now come to
an end in the City of Toronto." The City has been a leader in offering equal
access to its employees for many years. As early as 1973, the former City of
Toronto passed a resolution that its employees would be "in no way
discriminated against with regards to hiring, assignments, promotion or
dismissal on the basis of their sexual orientation." Most of the municipalities
that amalgamated in January 1998 to form the new City of Toronto offered
medical and dental benefits to th
e same-sex partners of their employees. In February, Council approved a
resolution to extend these benefits to all employees of the amalgamated City.

According to the Toronto Employee Working Group on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual
Issues spokesperson Frank Prendergast, "This vote demonstrates Toronto's strong
commitment to providing an equitable workplace for its lesbian and gay
employees. The next, and equally challenging, step is to ensure that the
availability of these benefits is communicated to all employees and that they
are delivered in a comprehensive and non-discriminatory way." The City joins a
growing number of large private- and public-sector employers in Toronto that
provide same-sex survivor pension benefits to their employees, including the
Bank of Montreal, the Bank of Nova Scotia, Nortel, IBM, York University, the
University of Toronto, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Province
of Ontario.


Media Contact
Charles Smith
Access and Equity Centre
(416) 392-5581

 

 

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