No benefits after 65? That’s discrimination:
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) has decided the Ontario Human Rights Code, and related provisions in the Employment Standards Act, amount to age discrimination and violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Back in 2006, Ontario’s Human Rights Code was changed to protect employees against discrimination on the basis of their age, such as hiring, promotion, training or termination (including mandatory retirement). But for some reason, employee benefits didn’t warrant the same protection.
But the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) has since decided the code, and related provisions in the Employment Standards Act, amount to age discrimination and violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The case concerned Wayne Talos, a teacher at the Grand Erie District School Board in Brantford, Ont., whose extended health, dental and life insurance benefits ended when he turned 65, though he was still working full-time. These benefits were of considerable help when it came to caring for his gravely ill wife.
Talos alleged the exception in the Human Rights Code infringed his equality rights and was unconstitutional, and he sought monetary compensation of $160,000 for lost benefits and compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.
In its decision, the tribunal looked extensively at Bill 211, an “Act to amend the Human Rights Code and certain other acts to end mandatory retirement” which was intended to end the upper limit on age that deprived workers from code protection when it came to involuntary retirement, but “preserved the ability to employers to provide differential benefits and pension plan contributions for workers 65 and older in a bid to maintain the financial viability of those plans.”
This “carve-out” was questioned by HRTO associate chair Yola Grant in her May 18 decision:
“I find that the policy choice to carve out workers age 65 and older relied on the insurance industry’s expectation of costs increases, an expectation that was not empirically supported in 2005. This policy choice by the legislature ignored ‘independent’ research that indicated little change to the cost of benefit plans in Manitoba and Quebec post-mandatory retirement.”