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For immediate release July 30 , 2002
Ottawa should amend the law instead of appealing
the Court decision, says PSAC
OTTAWA - The Public Service Alliance of Canada strongly condemns the federal government’s decision to appeal the July 12, 2002, Ontario Divisional Court’s decision on same-sex marriages.
"We’re disappointed that the federal government has chosen to prolong the discrimination suffered by same-sex couples," says PSAC National President Nycole Turmel, "when they should be taking the lead in ensuring equality and fairness for all people in Canada. Nevertheless, we, along with other unions and progressive groups, are going to continue to push for changes that will end this type of discrimination."
The PSAC recently sent a letter to Treasury Board President Lucienne Robillard proposing to re-open contract talks to make changes to four collective agreements that will eliminate discrimination against federal Treasury Board employees who wish to take leave for same-sex marriages. The union believes that its members who must wait for their right to legally register their marriages are being discriminated against under the current contracts, as the employer can deny them access to marriage leave.
The PSAC has been pushing for non-discriminatory marriage leaves in contract talks with Treasury Board well before the Ontario Superior Court decision. The union has gained some victories in this area, including broadening the definition of spouse and common-law spouse to include same-sex couples in collective agreements since 1997. This has eliminated the potential for discriminating against same-sex couples in provisions for benefits, family leave and bereavement, among others.
The PSAC has also negotiated changes in the collective agreements of the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Nature and the National Museum of Science and Technology. Their contracts provide for "Spousal Union Leave." However, Treasury Board has stubbornly refused to use the same term to replace "Marriage Leave," which the PSAC has consistently proposed in previous rounds of contract negotiations.
The four collective agreements in which the PSAC is now calling for changes in light of the Ontario Superior Court decision comprise of Program and Administrative Services, Operational Services, Technical Services, and Education and Library Services. These agreements cover approximately 90,000 federal public sector workers.
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For information: Nycole Turmel, PSAC national president (613) 560-4330