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Same-sex partners of Nova Scotia government employees will be the first in Canada to be eligible for benefits under registered pension plans, thanks to an Ontario court case brought forward by CUPE.

Nova Scotia will begin granting benefits to the partners of its gay and lesbian employees July 1. The province is reacting to an April 23 Ontario Court of Appeal decision.

In a case brought to court by CUPE for two of its employees the court ruled unanimously that the Income Tax Act’s definition of spouse as a partner of the opposite sex was discriminatory under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

That ruling changed the law to include gays and lesbians employed by federal, municipal, and provincial governments across the country – unless the decision is overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada. The federal government has until mid-June to appeal.