No basis to conclude decision was outside range of possible, acceptable outcomes

Pensions - Federal and provincial pension plans - Federal pension plans

Applicant was reserve force member of Canadian Armed Forces who retired at age 60 with over 42 years of service. Benefits under Reserve Force Pension Plan were calculated taking into account maximum of 35 years of pensionable service. Advisory officer interpreted s. 11(3) of Reserve Force Pension Plan Regulations, and determined that only member's first 35 years of service were taken into account in calculating pension benefits. Applicant advocated for interpretation of s. 11(3) that when section referred to “starting with the most recent”, it meant most recent earnings as of date of retirement, not most recent earnings as of date of election. If applicant's interpretation were adopted, it would effectively replace first seven years of applicant's past earnings with last seven years of earnings immediately before his retirement, during his last seven years applicant rose two ranks and seven pay grades, and would increase his benefits by approximately $200 per month. Applicant sought judicial review of officer's decision. Application dismissed. Taking into account principles of statutory interpretation, including requirement to give Regulations such fair, large and liberal construction as best ensured attainment of its objects, and considering arguments advanced by applicant in support of his proposed interpretation, there was no basis to conclude that decision was outside range of possible, acceptable outcomes based on applicable facts and law. When second sentence of s. 11(3) stated that there shall be counted “only those that would result in a maximum of 35 years of pensionable service”, word “those” read as reference to something in preceding wording of section. Natural interpretation of language was that “those” referred to “past earnings”, which was subject of first sentence of s. 11(3). Second sentence in s. 11(3) commenced with word “However”, which applicant submitted demonstrated that second sentence was intended to contrast with or contradict something said in first sentence, but that did not support position that earnings to be counted under second sentence must be other than past earnings. It was at least equally available interpretation that use of word “However” related to fact that first sentence provided that past earnings election was for all past earnings, while second sentence provided that not all of past earnings were necessarily to be counted as pensionable earnings. Section 11(3) directed accounting of past earnings, starting with most recent past earnings as of date of election. Officer's decision was reasonable.

Lamarche v. Canada (Attorney General) (2019), 2019 CarswellNat 5639, 2019 FC 1303, Richard F. Southcott J. (F.C.).

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