I am pleased to be joining you this afternoon.
This is an issue that means a lot to me, because two and a half years ago, I received a categorical no regarding my spouse's eligibility for a survivor pension allowance.
I would like to thank the honourable member Rachel Blaney for bringing forward private member's bill C‑221 in response to the so‑called gold digger's clause.
I spent 32 years in the RCMP in Canada and more than two years in Haiti as a personal bodyguard for the Canadian ambassador there, following the coup d'état in 1991. I also took part in two UN missions in Haiti.
By early 2020, I had been living with my spouse for two years already. I contacted the RCMP regarding the survivor pension allowance for my spouse. I was 63 at the time. That's when I found out that my spouse was not eligible for the survivor benefit.
After that, someone from Radio-Canada reached out to me, and my spouse and I were featured on the program La facture, which aired on Radio-Canada on November 17, 2020. If you missed the episode, I encourage you to watch it. The show was very well done, and the issue was well laid out.
The Quebec government provides the survivor pension allowance, but the federal government does not. What a huge letdown that is.
As you probably all know, seeing as most of us are quite active on this issue and care deeply about it, the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act—called the Militia Pension Act in Canada—dates back to 1901. We are in 2022, so the gold digger's clause is beyond outdated.
According to the act, it's as though the person no longer has any rights once they turn 60; it's over. I disagree with that. We all have the right to equal treatment. This archaic law has not kept pace with changes in society, the society we are living in now. It also goes against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. At the time, men had a life expectancy of 50 or 60; today, they are expected to live to 80 and beyond.
Last year, the current health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, who was President of the Treasury Board at the time, said that, if we weren't happy with the provision, all we had to do was put pension money aside for our spouses. Forgive me, Mr. Duclos, but I contributed to the pension fund for nearly 33 years, and my spouse has every right to receive survivor pension benefits.
If I died tomorrow, with today's cost of living, my spouse could not afford to keep living in our rented condo. She would have to find somewhere else to live, practically low-cost housing.
Denying her survivor pension benefits is unacceptable. This is 2022, and we need to act like it. We are entitled to equality, a right set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Thank you for this opportunity.
I would be happy to answer any questions you have.