Ottawa drops legal fight against cancer survivor denied sickness benefits
Jane Kittmer and her son appear in this undated image.
Published Thursday, May 16, 2013 6:05PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 16, 2013 10:59PM EDT
Ottawa has quietly dropped its fight against the cancer survivor who was denied special “sick leave” benefits, CTV News has learned.
Jane Kittmer drew nationwide attention when Human Resources and Skills Development Canada lawyers fought to pay her extended sick leave benefits when she was diagnosed with breast cancer during her maternity leave.
“I’m very happy everything has turned out and the government has done the right thing to make it better,” Kittmer said.
Her legal battle drew outrage from the opposition and a promise by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to correct it.
Today, federal lawyers withdrew their appeal. That means Kittmer will receive retroactive payments totaling more than $5,000.
“The Umpire ruled that Ms. Kittmer was entitled to receive sickness benefits. The Government has decided not to appeal this decision,” Alyson Queen, spokesperson for Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, said in a statement.
Kittmer said she should qualify under the Harper government’s “Helping Families in Need Act” that took effect in March.
Her lawyer, Stephen Moreau, said federal lawyers were reluctant to settle her case because it would set a precedent. He filed a class-action lawsuit and said 65,000 other parents face a similar situation.
“We’re very pleased with this decision,” Moreau said by phone. “It’s the right decision and it’s the first step towards writing an injustice, finally ensuring all individuals who were wrongly denied will receive it.”