June 01, 2018
Hilton, Vauclair, Mainville
Appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court dismissing a motion to institute proceedings for a declaratory judgment. Allowed, with dissenting reasons.
Following the adoption of the Act to foster the financial health and sustainability of municipal defined benefit pension plans (CQLR, c. S-2.1.1), the union and Fortin (a retired police officer) applied to the Superior Court for a declaration stating that the two Montreal police pension plans are not subject to the Act on the ground that they are not plans “established by a municipal body” as required by s. 1 of the Act. The Superior Court judge dismissed their application.
Both plans were “established” by the Association de bienfaisance et de retraite des policiers. The judge erred in concluding that they were established by a municipal body because [translation] “the city has to be involved in their implementation”. To apply such reasoning would lead to the untenable conclusion that a pension plan can never be established by anyone other than an employer because the employer always has to be involved in its implementation. Further, the presumption against interference with vested rights applies to avoid unduly extending the scope of the Act. Moreover, excluding the two pension plans at issue from the Act would not be absurd. It is instead consistent with the special status these plans have enjoyed for nearly a century and the fact that other municipal pension plans are also excluded. It is not for the courts to redraft a law or give legal provisions a meaning they cannot have.
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