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‘I cried’: Disabled seniors relieved after Quebec budget axes penalties for early retirement

WATCH: Seniors living with disabilities are celebrating a long-fought victory. Quebec announced it will be lifting penalties seniors incur when they take an early retirement due to an illness. Currently that is not the case. when seniors with disabilities reach retirement age, their income drops. As Global's Gloria Henriquez reports, advocacy groups and the seniors in question are relieved the battle has been won – Mar 13, 2024

Quebec’s finance Minister Eric Girard announced Tuesday that the province will be lifting pension penalties for people living with disabilities as of January 2025.

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Richard McLean took the province to court over the policy he called discriminatory.

McLean was in a wheelchair and suffered the consequences of a stroke.

It was his dying wish to see those penalties lifted.

He died in 2022 and would never see his dream come true, today his son Kevin is celebrating for him.

“I cried since yesterday,” McLean said, who was thinking of his father when he heard the news. “Inside my heart, I know he’s there.”

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Currently, if someone retires before the age of 64, they’re hit with a penalty that could reduce their pension benefits by 36 per cent.

It even applies to those who were forced to take their retirement early due to a disability.

They’re hit with a reduction of 24 per cent of their pension.

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Community organizations such as the Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec (COPHAN) have been fighting to have the policy removed for years.

COPHAN’s president Paul Lupien says he is happy. “Very happy because we won a very important for the handicapped people in Quebec,” Lupien told Global News.

Lupien is set to reach retirement age in a few days and will see his pension reduced by hundreds of dollars.

“Presently, handicapped people are the poorest people in the community,” Lupien explained.

Lupien’s organization also filed a complaint against the government with the United Nations.

He says he will consider lifting it once he sees the changes are truly made.

McLean’s legal procedure is also still pending.

While the administrative tribunal ruled in his favour last year, the government contested the ruling.

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It’s not clear yet if the province will drop that.

As for McLean’s son Kevin, he says he is ready to close this chapter.

“Dad, now the mission is done,” he said.


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