Pensions for Killers

By Cédric Lamarche
Recent reports have brought to light the fact that hundreds of Canadian inmates benefit from streams of income as a result of old age pensions.
The notorious serial killer, Clifford Olson, who plead guilty to 11 counts of murder in 1982 and who was sentenced to 11 concurrent life sentences has been the subject of much discussion regarding his collection of Canadian pension payments.  Olsen, now 70 years of age, has been receiving monthly pension installments since turning 65 years of age, despite the fact that he will never see another day as a free man.
The reports have initiated an interesting debate in many Canadian households.  For some, the pension payments appear to be too insignificant to warrant any concern for Canadian taxpayers.  For others, the answer is clear: as a matter of principle, convicted felons should be cut off from all payments made from the public purse.
As it stands, Canadian felons benefit from many of the same human rights as all other law abiding Canadian citizens.  Where should the Canadian government draw the line?  Should Canadian inmates be stripped of their human rights?
The Conservative government has recently indicated that it will look into the issue and has vowed to make the necessary statutory amendments to stop pension payments to violent felons who are unlikely to be freed from their cells.
However, the issue must be carefully considered before any legislative amendments are implemented.  Changes to the legislation which may strip inmates of the human rights they current enjoy will surely spur outrage amongst prisoner rights advocates. Constitutional challenges are likely to follow.
It remains to be seen if any action will be taken by the Conservative government and whether this issue will simply serve as yet another political platform come election time.
Cedric P. Lamarche is a lawyer with Whitten & Lublin LLP, an employment law office assisting both employers and employees on various workplace legal matters.