They must appear in the flesh, regardless of their physical condition.
You should know that in Quebec – the only province in Canada where this is the case – disabled citizens at the age of 65 receive a nice letter from Retraite Québec informing them that they will be given the penalty that applies to those is planned for those who take early retirement. , while they couldn't work.
Invalid, the word says it.
I wrote about this topic in late October and told you the story of Richard McLean, who filed a class action lawsuit in 2020, two years before his death. His son Kevin continued his fight. “My father became disabled after a stroke at age 50 and had three more after that,” he told me at the time. He went from a cane to a wheelchair, and then we had to put him in a CHSLD.”
At the age of 65 he received THE letter.
He was informed that his disability pension would be replaced by a reduced old-age pension. “Since my father hadn’t worked for 15 years, they imposed a 36% early retirement penalty and assumed he retired at 60,” just like those who say “Bye bye boss” do around them to make an effort when concealing.
In short order, his income dropped from $1,160 per month to $679.29, a reduction of $8,140 per year. Without the penalty, he would have received $970.42. “My father said, 'If I understand correctly, a miracle has happened, I'm no longer disabled!' But I still can't walk…”
According to official figures, there are 28,000 people like him in Quebec.
Hence the class action lawsuit.
You should also know that the Commission on Human and Youth Rights (CDPDJ) ruled in February 2017 that the punishment was unconstitutional and that it constituted disability discrimination. Then, in May 2023, two judges of the Quebec Administrative Tribunal (TAQ) declared the two articles of the pension plan relating to these penalties “inapplicable and discriminatory.”
It is this ruling that Quebec has appealed because the government – for a reason unknown to me – is determined to maintain this injustice.
Apparently, from the moment the pension penalty was lifted by the CDPDJ, disabled people filed a complaint with the TAQ to challenge it, so that the decision to reduce their pension could be overturned. They thought they could finally claim victory with the May 2023 ruling, but had to hold their breath when Quebec appealed.
The proceedings are still ongoing.
Logically, the files of challenge filed with the TAQ against the said penalty have been suspended pending the decision of the Court of Appeal, in order not to unnecessarily monopolize this court in the event that the Court of Appeal rejects Quebec's claims and confirms the discriminatory nature of the measure.
But some invalids received a letter telling them they had to enlist in order to continue. Through access to information, the TAQ confirms that “there are 19 files that have been suspended and that have been or will be subpoenaed by the court.” This is just the beginning, all files should continue. “As no application has been made to the Supreme Court to stay the other proceedings before the court, the parties have now been summoned or will be summoned.”
I couldn't figure out how many files there are.
Lawyer Sophie Mongeon, who, together with three other lawyers, represents disabled people free of charge, simply cannot believe it. “It forces poor, often sick people to go in person. I'm overwhelmed with calls, people don't understand what's going on. Instead of correcting the situation, the government continues the fight. And who pays for all of this? We are your lawyers. We have to abolish punishment, period.”
At best, Finance Minister Eric Girard reduced the penalty from 36% to 24% last year, as if he were showing greatness of heart.
But the CAQ government insists on punishing disabled people at all costs. In August, in response to a question from host Mario Dumont, Minister Girard recalled in a written response “the very difficult context in 1997 when the decision was made to change the old-age pension of a disability pension recipient.” This was part of a series of measures in response aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the QPP and which affected all plan participants.”
A month later, Labor Minister Jean Boulet also reiterated in the National Assembly that the measure was justified 26 years ago “to ensure the survival of the regime, social acceptance and justice between the generations of contributors.”
In fact, it's been 26 years. At this point, the pension plan was in a catastrophic state and the PQ government of Lucien Bouchard had taken a number of measures to replenish the coffers. It was Louise Harel, the then Minister for Income Security, who gave the green light to the penalty against disabled people.
Today we are swimming in surplus.
Hey, I suggest that Eric Girard, Jean Boulet and François Legault watch Tuesday's “La Facture,” an eight-minute, 56-second report that can be found with a few clicks on the Radio-Canada website . Journalist Katherine Tremblay caught up with Louise Harel to find out what she thinks about it all.
She regrets it bitterly.
She admits that this is no small matter; the director has assured her that the income of disabled people will ultimately not be affected thanks to other benefits. “It's like I always thought it would be the pension and the guaranteed income supplement that would make up for it,” she admitted.
It was wrong.
And if it had to happen again, it would not have imposed this punishment, which has proven to be unjust. “I went straight, I blame myself. […] I think the first thing you have to do in life is to take responsibility for what you have done, that is, to take responsibility for the good things – I have done quite a few, apparently – but also for the bad fates to take yourself. ”
And whenever she can, she defends the disabled on the front lines, even going so far as to demonstrate alongside them. “This is systemic discrimination. This needs to be resolved collectively, systematically and not individually in court. […] There is no reason why the government should not seek a solution quickly.”
It would be so easy.
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