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BENEFITS AND CLAIMS - Special benefits - Parental - Pregnancy

Wednesday, December 16, 2020 @ 6:45 AM  

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Application by Court for judicial review of a decision of the Appeal Division of the Social Security Tribunal confirming the Tribunal’s finding that the payment to the applicant of settlement funds for her wrongful dismissal claim resulted in an overpayment of benefits previously paid to her during periods of maternity and parental leave based on s. 45 of the Employment Insurance Act and s. 36(9) of the Employment Insurance Regulations. The applicant’s employment was terminated during her pregnancy. She received maternity benefits from September to December 2012 and parental benefits from December 2012 to August 2013. In 2014, she sued her former employer for wrongful dismissal and breach of contract. In 2016, the parties settled the action for $50,000. The applicant was left with $33,828 after the deduction of legal expenses. The Employment Insurance Commission determined that the $33,828 represented earnings and created an overpayment of the applicant’s maternity and parental leave benefits because the applicant’s earnings were not deducted from the benefits paid to her. The applicant did not dispute that the $33,828 represented earnings but argued that the Appeal Division’s interpretations of s. 45 and s. 36(9) were unreasonable and that s. 36 of the Regulations contemplated that earnings were to be allocated only to those weeks where the claimant earned employment income.

HELD: Application dismissed. Section 45 of the Act read in conjunction with s. 36(9) of the Regulations operated so that once the applicant received settlement monies from her employer, she would be required to repay the amount determined as an overpayment of unemployment benefits, regardless of the period in respect of which earnings were purported to be paid. Therefore, even if she received a settlement representing only monies she might have earned when she returned to work from her maternity leave, but for her dismissal, she had received an overpayment of benefits and was obliged to repay them. The applicant did not adduce any evidence of a clear legislative intent that claimants should not have to repay their maternity or parental leave benefits in the event of a settlement derived from a claim for wrongful dismissal. The Appeal Division demonstrably justified its interpretation of s. 45 of the Act and related Regulations while taking into consideration the context surrounding the applicant’s maternity leave and termination from her employment.

Court v. Canada (Attorney General), [2020] F.C.J. No. 1100, Federal Court of Appeal, W.W. Webb, J.M. Woods and M. Rivoalen JJ.A., November 16, 2020. Digest No. TLD-December142020006