Canada: The Tension Between Collective Agreement Obligations And The Elimination Of Mandatory Retirement

Last Updated: April 18 2011
Article by Sharon Silbert

Most Read Contributor in Canada, September 2016

Effective December 12, 2006, the Ontario Human Rights Code (the "Code") was amended to remove the protection for mandatory retirement at age 65 or greater that had previously been included in the Code. The amendments changed the definition of age in the Code so that, in general, discrimination against employees aged 65 or older in respect of employment is no longer permitted.

At the same time, the government added subsections 25(2.1) to (2.3) to the Code to create an exception to the new general prohibition on discrimination against those aged 65 and older. These subsections provide that the right to equal treatment without discrimination on the basis of age is not infringed by benefit, pension, superannuation or group insurance plans or funds that comply with the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and its regulations. The combined effect of all of these legislative provisions is that employee benefit and insurance plans that provide differential treatment for workers aged 65 and up are deemed not to violate the Code.

The termination of benefits at age 65 has been challenged in three recent arbitration cases by unions arguing that such termination resulted in a breach of the collective agreement because it prevented the employer from fulfilling its promise of providing benefits to all employees.

The first case in which this issue was considered is Re London (City) and C.U.P.E., Loc. 101 (PY-02-07).1 The issue before Arbitrator Brandt was whether an employee over the age of 65 who has not retired remained entitled to various benefits under the collective agreement and under the terms of various insurance plans purchased by the City of London (the City).

Arbitrator Brandt held that there was "no question" that the collective agreement conferred an entitlement to benefits to all those who were "employees" of the City and, since the grievors were both employees, they were prima facie entitled to those benefits. In his view, the issue was whether the City had purchased an insurance plan which provided the agreed-upon insured benefits to the grievors. In allowing the grievance, Arbitrator Brandt held the grievors could take advantage of a policy that did not reference age as a limiting factor.

In London (City) v C.U.P.E., London Civic Employees, Local 107 (Collective Agreement Grievance),2 the issue was once again whether the employer violated the collective agreement by failing to extend the full benefits provided for under the collective agreement to employees over the age of 65. The collective agreement was entered into in May 2006, and had a term of January 1, 2006 until December 31, 2009. Article 14 of the agreement dealt with employee benefits. Some of the benefits clearly provided for termination at age 65. However, others did not contain any language to indicate that coverage would cease upon reaching 65 years of age. Article 14.1 stated that all of the insurance mentioned in Article 14 shall be as more particularly described and set forth in the respective policy or policies of insurance. The relevant policies provided for termination or reduction of most benefits at age 65.

Arbitrator Etherington allowed the grievance. He agreed with the union's submissions that the plain ordinary meaning of the language used in collective agreement contemplated that benefits would be provided to all permanent employees without limitation due to age. While limitations based on age that were expressly included in the collective agreement should be upheld, there was nothing in the wording of the other benefit provisions that would justify continuing to provide some but not all of the benefits to workers who reach age 65.

In the 2009 decision of Re School District No. 59 (Peace River South) and B.C.G.E.U.,3 Abitrator John B. Hall considered the cessation of benefits for employees over the age of 65 who continued to work after mandatory retirement was eliminated in British Columbia (as of January 1, 2008).

Arbitrator Hall found the employer's arguments persuasive, and denied the grievance. He distinguished City of London from the case before him on the basis that the actual terms of the insurance coverage had been agreed-upon by the parties. He determined that the parties' mutual intention was to provide benefit coverage pursuant to the negotiated insurance plan envisaged by the collective agreement. As the agreed-upon plan included age restrictions, the grievance was dismissed.

The existing case law on this issue suggests that there are two important factors to be considered in determining whether a provision in an insurance policy terminating benefits at age 65 violates the terms of a collective agreement. First, is the wording of the collective agreement and second, is the extent to which the specific terms of the insurance policies were negotiated by the parties. While the two Ontario decisions were not favourable to the employer, the decision Peace River South should not be ignored.

About BLG


1 (2008) 169 L.A.C. (4th) 134 (Brandt).

2 [2010] O.L.A.A. No. 347 (Etherington).

3 (2009), 101 C.L.A.S. 195 (Hall).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.