Human rights complaint filed after B.C. mom’s maternity benefits clawed back

EI benefits alleged to have been deducted to offset disability assistance

VANCOUVER — A human rights complaint has been filed on behalf of a mother whose maternity and parental benefits were clawed back by the B.C. government.

The Community Legal Assistance Society filed the complaint on behalf of Sooke resident Jess Alford, whose partner receives disability assistance.

Alford received Employment Insurance benefits after the birth of her child in 2014, but the complaint to the BC Human Rights Tribunal alleges all the money was deducted to offset disability assistance paid by the province to her partner.

According to the Community Legal Assistance Society, the B.C. government claws back maternity and parental benefits from primarily female claimants in about 150 families every year.

The society says that amounts to sex discrimination contrary to human rights law because the policy puts families with a female wage earner in a worse financial position than families with a male worker.

Lawyer Laura Johnston says although the complaint was filed after the permitted time frame, the tribunal has agreed to hear it because it is in the public interest.

“This complaint is about changing the policy so other families don’t have to experience this,” Johnston said.

“The B.C. government could step up and say, ‘We are going to fix this human rights problem and we are going to change this policy,’ and that would solve the complaint,” she said. “But if the B.C. government chooses to fight this complaint and put this family through litigation, it could take many more months.”

A hearing date has not yet been set by the tribunal but talks will begin with the province in hopes of avoiding a lengthy legal battle, Johnston said.

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bike lane closed, traffic impacted by landscaping in Metchosin

Construction begins May 25, to be complete by mid-July

Homeless shelter at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre creates 40 jobs

The arena can house 45 people in pop-up pods

Bears spotted near Saanich lake spooked by police, wandered off

Bear, cub not seen over weekend but police ask residents to be on alert

Victoria’s 75,000 veggie plants ready to find a home

New gardeners line-up for Get Growing Victoria

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Dump truck in Nanaimo snags power lines, snaps hydro pole, crashes

No injuries in incident Monday morning on Old Victoria Road

Ferry sailings scheduled once again at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay terminal

BC Ferries announces that resumption of service June 3 includes four daily round trips

Island Health signs working agreement to turn former Comox hospital into a ‘dementia village’

Island Health has signed a project development agreement with Providence Living to… Continue reading

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

Most Read