Egan v. Canada (1995)
-Does failure to include same sex couples in dn of “spouse” in Old Age
Security Act violate s. 15?
-Four js (La Forest): no violation of s. 15. Old Age Sec
Act intended to assist heterosexual couples, who tend to take on additional
burdens by having children.
-Sopinka: there's a violation of s.15 that can be justified under
-2 Dissenting opinions (L’Heureux-Dube, & Cory +2 others):
Old Age Sec Act violates s. 15, and this cannot be justified under s. 1.
-Oakes test: obj of Act is substantial, but Act fails all 3 parts
of Part II.
-Does failure to include sexual orientation in Alberta Individual Rights
Protection Act violate s.15?
-All 9 judges: yes.
-Not including sexual orientation is a distinction
that denies equal protection.
-Depends what objective is. If objective is to prevent discrimination,
then it's pressing & substantial.
If obj is to deny gays equal treatment, then it's
-Part II: If we accept first objective above, then omission of
homosexuals fails all 3 tests in Part II.
-Remedy: read sexual orientation into act.
-Major dissents from remedy.
-L’Heureux-Dube: would broaden definition of groups claiming
discrimination: any group not being treated with equal concern and
respect can claim discrimination.
M. v. H. (1999)
-Should homosexual couples be able to use Family Law Act to claim support
from a former partner?
-Majority: yes, for reasons similar to Vriend.
-Remedy: declaration of violation of s. 15, plus suspension of
offending part of FLA for 6 months to give legislature time to revise it.
-Gonthier dissents: adopted Egan-type approach. There's
no violation of s. 15. Purpose of FLA is to is to assist heterosexual
couples who have a division of labour in the family to support children,
and then the marriage falls apart. Most homosexual couples do not
have the same division of labour, and therefore don't need the protection
of the FLA.
Eldridge v. AG of BC (1997)
-Does s. 15 require governments to provide interpreters to the deaf in
-Unanimous: yes (La Forest wrote the decision).
-Failure to provide deaf persons with interpreters restricts equal
application of the benefit of health legislation.
-The legislation itself is not unconstitutional, but the failure of
the gov’t to take action to provide equal benefit is a violation of s.
15 that cannot be justified under s. 1 because rights of deaf are not minimally
-This decision is important because it shows how the Supreme Court
can be activist in ordering that benefits be extended to disadvantaged
groups, even if this means greater government expenditures. (In this
case, there was no evidence that the additional expenditure would result
in undue hardship.)