Ending of Mandatory Retirement in Ontario

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The Ending of Mandatory Retirement in Ontario

As of December 12, 2006 Ontario residents can decide for themselves whether they want to continue working past the age of 65 or whether they want to terminate their employment and start to enjoy their retirement. In Ontario, a new law, Bill 211 came into effect “Ending of Mandatory Retirement Statue Law Amendment Act of 2005.” The bill was given Royal Assent on December 12, 2005 however in order to allow employers time to make the necessary provisions and adjustments it did not come into effect until one year later.1 This law amends the Ontario Human Rights Code as well as a number of other statutes that prohibit mandatory retirement at age 65, except in cases where it could be justified as a “bona fide occupational requirement” determined under the code. A bona fide occupational requirement compels the employer to show that they cannot accommodate the employee without undue hardship, taking into consideration such factors as cost, health and safety issues. A bona fide occupational requirement is allowed under the Ontario Human Rights Code because of the nature of the employment. They must also establish that the requirement was adopted in good faith and that the requirement is necessary and rationally connected to the performance of the job.

The abolishment of mandatory retirement has been under construction for quite some time now. The Ontario Human Rights Commission released the paper: “Time for Action – Advancing Human Rights for Older Ontarians” in June 2001. They argued that mandatory retirement policies “undermine the dignity and self worth of older employees” and that the definition of age under employment of the Human Rights Code should be changed.2 The Code defined “age” for employment purposes as being eighteen years or older but younger than sixty-five years. This meant that employers were able to discriminate against a person in employment situations if they were 65 or over. Bill 211 removed age 65 and up, from the code. Then in August 2004 the government released a public consultation paper on ending mandatory age based retirement in Ontario. Public consultations were held across the province in September 2004 and during this time, the government also conducted consultations with stakeholders and experts. The Legislation of the Bill was introduced in June 2005 and passed on December 8, 2005, receiving Royal Assent on December 12, 2005 with the one year transition period before coming into force on December 12, 2006

In April 2003 the Ontario government speech from the Throne promised the introduction of legislation “allowing more seniors to remain active in the workforce.”3 Subsequent to this, on June 2005 Bill 211 of the Ontario Human Rights Code, introduced that “every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, color, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.”4 Bill 211 amended age as it related to employment “from eighteen years or more and less then sixty-five years” to “eighteen years or more.” Therefore general mandatory retirement policies, employment contract provisions specifying mandatory retirement and collective agreement provisions specifying mandatory retirement are no longer enforceable.

Ontario is not the first province to ban mandatory retirement. It joins Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec and Price Edward Island, Nunavut, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories who all have already abolished mandatory retirement. Many people considered mandatory retirement as a discriminatory practice to the older generation. Ending mandatory retirement does not preclude people from choosing to retire at, or prior, to the age of 65. It was passed so that older people will be able to choose for themselves how long they wish to remain in the workforce, based on their lifestyles and circumstances so long as...
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