Canada Pension Plan disability payments are not income for the purpose of survivor benefits calculations

19. September 2016 0

The appeal of a decision finding that Canada Pension Plan disability payments are not to be considered as income for the calculation of motor vehicle accident survivor benefits was dismissed.

Insurance law – Automobile insurance – Benefits – No-fault coverage – Death benefits – Earned income – definition – Statutory provisions – Statutory interpretation

Holtby-York v. Saskatchewan Government Insurance, [2016] S.J. No. 412, 2016 SKCA 95, August 3, 2016, R.G. Richards C.J.S., R.K. Ottenbreit and J.A. Ryan-Froslie JJ.A.

A spouse of a man fatally injured in a motor vehicle accident was entitled to death benefits under s. 144 of The Automobile Accident Insurance Act, RSS 1978, c A-35 (“Act”). The death benefit payable under The Personal Injury Regulation, RSS c A-35 (“Regulation”) was based on a calculation of “yearly employment income”. At the time of his death, the insured man was receiving worker’s compensation and Canada Pension Plan (“CPP”) disability benefits. At issue on appeal was whether the CPP benefits should be included in the calculation of death benefits.

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. CPP disability benefits did not qualify as having been “earned” from employment. Such payments were more akin to a contract of insurance and had no direct relationship to a recipient’s employment income. Additionally, having regard to the associating words principle of statutory interpretation, the Court held that CPP benefits did not fall within s. 17(2)(b) of the Regulation as they did not qualify as “the cash value of any other benefit received or that the insured was entitled to receive in the 12 month period prior to the accident, excluding employer-funded benefit plans”.

This case was digested by Kora V. Paciorek and edited by David W. Pilley of Harper Grey LLP. If you would like to discuss this case further, please feel free to contact them directly at or or review their biographies at

To stay current with the new case law and emerging legal issues in this area, subscribe here.