On May 18, 2018, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “Tribunal”) released an interim decision in Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board, 2018 HRTO 680, finding that the termination of an employee’s health, dental and life insurance benefits at age 65 constituted unlawful age discrimination contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”). The Tribunal ruled that subsection 25(2.1) of the Code, which allows for such differential treatment at age 65 when read in conjunction with Ontario Regulation 286/01 – Benefit Plans under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000, is unconstitutional because it infringes the equality rights guaranteed by section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
As a result of the Tribunal’s decision, it is a violation of the Code for employers to terminate health, dental and life insurance benefits of employees at age 65. Although the Tribunal’s decision does not address long-term disability insurance, pension plans and superannuation funds, the Tribunal’s analysis and conclusion may apply to such benefits as well.
The Tribunal’s decision will likely be judicially reviewed. In the meantime, employers should consider extending health, dental and life insurance benefits to employees after age 65. If employers do not extend such benefits to employees after age 65, employers may face damage claims resulting from the termination of such benefits at age 65.