Canada: Human Rights Tribunal Of Ontario Decision On Post Age 65 Benefits Raises Important Issues

The recent decision from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (Tribunal) in Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board raises important issues about the provision of benefits to employees aged 65 and older. In Talos, the Tribunal found that section 25 (2.1) of the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code), which effectively permits employers to cease providing employees with benefits at age 65, is unconstitutional.1 More specifically, the Tribunal held that this age-based "carve out" from Code protection violates the equality guarantee under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) and cannot be justified under section 1 of the Charter as a reasonable limit. The implications of the Tribunal's interim decision are addressed in this FTR Now.


In 2005, the government of Ontario passed Bill 211, An Act to amend the Human Rights Code and certain other Acts to end mandatory retirement. The core purpose of the Bill was to prohibit employers from requiring their employees to retire at age 65.

Bill 211 did not, however, end all age-based differential treatment in the workplace. It deliberately preserved employers' ability to provide age-differentiated benefit and pension plans to employees aged 65 and older. This was done in "a bid to maintain flexibility for the workplace parties to make arrangements that would respect the financial viability of those plans."2


The Applicant in this case is a secondary school teacher whose benefits ceased when he turned 65. He alleged discrimination based on age and argued that section 25 (2.1) of the Code, which permitted the termination of his benefits, infringed his equality rights under the Charter. At the outset of the hearing, the Applicant confirmed that his allegations were based exclusively on the discontinuance of health, dental and life insurance benefits for workers age 65 and older.

The Tribunal first determined that the Applicant had standing to bring this constitutional challenge – as an affected individual and as a member of a group that experiences disadvantage. It then considered two issues: (1) whether section 25 (2.1) of the Code violates section 15(1) of the Charter; and (2) if it does, whether it can be justified as a reasonable limit under section 1 of the Charter.

On the first issue, the Tribunal accepted the Applicant's position that the carve-out under the Code creates a distinction based on a protected ground (age), and that the distinction has the effect of perpetuating and exacerbating the disadvantage already faced by workers aged 65 and older. As such, it was held that section 25 (2.1) of the Code infringed section 15(1) of the Charter.

Similarly, on the second issue, the Tribunal agreed with the argument put forth by the Applicant and certain intervenors, including the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), that the infringement of section 15 could not be justified as a reasonable limit under section 1. This determination by the Tribunal was grounded, in particular, on two key findings:

  1. the exception under the Code constitutes a "blanket carve-out" and, as such, does not "minimally impair" the right of workers age 65 and older to equal compensation; and
  2. the Ontario legislature could have adopted "less intrusive means" to meet its objective of maintaining the financial viability of workplace group benefit plans.

In concluding that the infringement could not be justified, the Tribunal declined to follow the 2010 arbitral decision in Chatham-Kent v. O.N.A. on the same issue.3 The divergent result in this case appears to be based on certain evidentiary findings. In particular, the Tribunal noted that there was now experience and historical data relating to the financial sustainability of benefits plans that was not available to the arbitrator when the Chatham-Kent case was decided.4

Significantly, the Tribunal gave very little weight to the testimony of the expert put forward by the Attorney General. As a result, the Tribunal accepted the evidence of the OHRC's expert – namely, that on the facts of this case, it is "financially sustainable" and "not cost-prohibitive" for employers to continue health care, dental and modified life insurance benefits for employees up to age 79.


The immediate impact of this award is limited in several respects. First, only courts have the authority to issue a general declaration of constitutional invalidity. This means that the Tribunal's interim decision in this case is not binding on future decision-makers.

Second, the Applicant's allegations were expressly limited to group health, dental and life insurance plans. Therefore, as the Tribunal stated, this "decision does not address long term disability insurance, pension plans and superannuation funds."5

Finally, the Tribunal's decision on the constitutional issue was an interim decision, and was not determinative of the Applicant's case on the merits. The Applicant must still prove his case and substantiate his claim for damages, if any.

Notwithstanding the decision's apparent limited scope, all employers in Ontario should be prepared for the possibility that this finding will be followed in future cases. To that end, employers – especially those with a practice of terminating or reducing employees' benefits at age 65 – should be turning their minds to how the Talos decision applies in their particular circumstances and in the sector in which they operate.


1 Section 25 (2.1) of the Code operates in conjunction with s. 44 of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and O. Reg 286/01 to create a distinction between workers who are under and over 65 years of age.

2 Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board, 2018 HRTO 680, para. 15.

3 Chatham-Kent (Municipality) v. O.N.A. (O'Brien) (Re), 104 C.L.A.S. 267 (October 31, 2010).

4 Talos, para. 271.

5 Talos, para. 284.

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.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
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
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions