Alberta opens door to benefits for adult partners in any relationship

By Sheryl Smolkin
|CHRR, Guide to Pensions & Benefits|Last Updated: 02/11/2003

In an attempt to avoid direct compliance with Supreme Court of Canada rulings requiring equal treatment of same-sex partners, Alberta has created adult interdependent relationships as a new class of relationship with rights and obligations currently not available in any other Canadian jurisdiction.

Alberta Bill 30-2, the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act, received royal assent in December. It amends more than 60 statutes to recognize adult interdependent partners (AIPs) and provide some property rights to individuals in such relationships. The majority of the changes in the bill will come into effect on proclamation, which is expected in the first quarter of 2003. One notable exception is the Alberta Personal Income Tax Act amendments, which are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2001.

Alberta Finance was able to convince the government not to give AIPs the same rights as spouses under the Employment Pension Plans Act (EPPA) because pension plans recognizing platonic relationships cannot be registered under the federal Income Tax Act (ITA). Instead Alberta introduced the term “pension partner,” which includes common-law heterosexual and same-sex partners. Similar amendments have been made to legislation governing public-sector plans for management employees, local authorities, special forces, the public service, members of the legislative assembly or provincial judges and masters in chambers.