Terminating Benefits Ruled Unconstitutional
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) still has to decide if terminating benefits for people who work past age 65 is discriminatory.
In the meantime, its interim decision in Talos v Grand Erie School Board has found the section of the Human Rights Code of Ontario which permits this as unconstitutional and discriminatory, says Alyssa LeBlanc, an associate at Fasken. Speaking at the Fasken Institute on the ‘Year in Review: The Best, The Worst, The Unbelievable,’ she said the case involves a teacher who continued to work past age 65. His extended health, dental, and life insurance was terminated at age 65. At the time, this was allowed under Section 252 (2.1) of the code. The applicant submitted that this section was unconstitutional.
The tribunal decision said this, in combination with the employment standards act, created a distinction between over 65s and under 65s doing the same work. It also put a burden on the employee that a 64-year-old would not face, especially since the employee was depending on the benefits to cover the healthcare costs of an ailing wife who had no benefit plan. An employee under age 65 would not have this burden. Nor could it find any financial or actuarial evidence that providing these benefits would add to the costs of the school board’s benefit plan. In fact, some benefit plans do not terminate benefits for employees even as old as 73. She said the decision was not based on merit, it only determined if the school board could use the section as a defence for its action.