The Canadian Human Rights Commission is examining whether Ottawa discriminates against families of single soldiers killed overseas by denying them a $250,000 lump-sum death benefit that is paid to relatives of married soldiers.

The commission will hold a tribunal hearing some time in the next few months on the issue, The Canadian Press has learned.


Lincoln Dinning, with his wife, Laurie, points to a photo of his son Cpl. Matthew Dinning with Prime Minister Stephen Harper taken in Afghanistan, at a news conference in Ottawa on May 30, 2007. ((Tom Hanson/Canadian Press))

The hearing is based on the complaint of an Ontario couple whose son, Cpl. Matthew Dinning, died in a roadside bomb attack in Kandahar in 2006.

His father, Lincoln Dinning, said married and single soldiers fight and die side by side and should be treated the same as far as death benefits go.

When a married soldier is killed in action, the surviving spouse and children are eligible for the one-time payment to help them with the costs of adjusting. The cash is on top of whatever life insurance a soldier may carry.

But single soldiers are excluded from the benefit, which was introduced when the Conservative government implemented the new Veterans Charter in 2006.

Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn would not comment on the human rights case, but said the payment was implemented after careful consideration.

No date has been sent for the human rights hearing.

With files from The Canadian Press