Former provincial employee eyes rights complaint

A former Alberta government employee is mulling a human rights complaint over a benefits package that defines a “spouse” only as someone of the opposite sex.

A former Alberta government employee is mulling a human rights complaint over a benefits package that defines a “spouse” only as someone of the opposite sex.

Scott Mair, who worked for Children’s Services, says he was forced to list his husband as a “benefit partner” when applying to have him covered under the plan, which applies to provincial union employees.

“They were refusing to include me as a spouse, which basically is them refusing to recognize my same-sex marriage.”

The dispute has a familiar ring to Mickey Wilson, Prairie representative for Egale Canada, which advocates for the rights of gay, lesbian and transgendered people.

Before same-sex marriage was legalized, opponents argued a “civil union” would mean the same thing without using the same words.

“Language is very powerful,” he said. “We find ourselves identified and included or erased and excluded in language.”

An spokesman with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says it is meeting with the government to get the wording changed.

Mair, who has since left his job with Children’s Services said he’ll wait to see if the talks lead to changes before deciding whether to file a complaint.

He’s concerned because other employees in same-sex marriages have contacted him to say they feel the same way but are afraid to speak out on the issue.

“Sexual minority people in Alberta will tell you that there’s Canada and then there’s Alberta,” he said.

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