March 01, 2002
As the Association has advised our members in the past, the process of litigation can be a very slow and laborious exercise. Our pensions actions are a clear example of this…“What has become abundantly clear over the last several years, is that when $40 billion is at stake the government will use any means at its disposal to drag the issue through the courts as slowly as possible,”
said Association President Bill Krause.
The Association, in conjunction with various other bargaining agents, filed actions in both 1997 and 1998 to stop accounting practices the government was using to amortize the pension surplus and to improperly credit interest to the plan.
Following passage of the government’s pension legislation in 1999 (Bill C-78), the Association joined with other unions in the National Joint Council to contest the new legislation. This action claims ownership of the pension surplus for federal government employees.
Since that time, in the hearings leading up to the case, a decision was rendered by Justice Morin striking the unions from the case. Justice Morin’s ruling was that unions did not have legal standing in Ontario outside of certain labour statues and could not sue on behalf of their members or be sued.
The Association believes that this is an erroneous decision, and as such filed an appeal as the second party to the appeal. Meanwhile, a cross appeal has been filed by the Government on other aspects of the Morin decision. Despite these appeals the original actions, filed in 1997 and 1998, are still proceeding before the Superior Court of Justice. The employer’s representatives have recently provided us with their documents relevent to the case, and we expect that examinations for discovery will take place during the summer of 2002.
The appeal of the decision on union standing has not yet been heard. Our legal counsel, Fiona Campbell of Caroline Engelmann & Gottheil, filed our written submissions in December. We expect to receive the employer’s written arguments in resonse to our arguments and on their cross appeal in the near future. The oral argument on the union standing issue will be heard on June 19, 2002, in Toronto.