Ontario has prohibited the application of a mandatory retirement age since the Human Rights Code was amended in 2006, but the code permits employers to rely on the Ontario Employment Standards as a rationale to cease employee benefits coverage at age 65. A recent decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (2018 HRTO 680) found the exception permitting employers to end employee benefits coverage at age 65 to be unconstitutional.
The Tribunal determined that age alone was not an adequate reason to terminate coverage, but that other financial and actuarial factors could potentially be a valid consideration if coverage for employees age 65 and older created an undue hardship for the employer. It remains to be seen whether this decision will have a broader impact on employer-sponsored plans. The Tribunal’s decision did not invalidate the exception in the Human Rights Code and the challenge was limited to group health, dental and life insurance benefits plans. It did not address long-term disability insurance and pension plans. The decision will likely be subject to judicial review.