Can You Terminate Benefits To An Employee 65 and Over In Ontario?

If you are questioning whether you can deny or limit benefits to an older employee in your organization, you might want to keep reading. A landmark ruling in May of 2021 by the Human Rights Tribunal deemed denying benefits due to age unconstitutional.
The ruling was brought on by a high school teacher, who challenged the termination of benefits at sixty-five and for the first time, the applicant won and a settlement was reached.
What this means for employers is that if you limit or deny benefits to persons 65 and over, you might be putting your company in hot water if your employee decides to claim age discrimination. With the number of workers over the age of 65 continuing to increase, and reports by Statistics Canada showing that workers 65 and over are 30% of the workforce, and 1-5 workers in Canada are 65 and over, employers need to do their due diligence.
You can also not terminate benefits due to gender, marital status, or when an employee is on any ESA approved leave. According to the Employment Standards Act of Ontario, employers are not required to provide employee benefits, but if they do offer them, the rules against discrimination of the ESA must be followed.
No new legislation has come about since the ruling and subsequent settlement, and probably won’t until the Charter, and the Employment Standards Act becomes more consistent. While we wait to see what happens, one thing you can do in the meantime is a comparison of other companies in your sector. If you are not on the same level as them, you might want to bump up your termination age to show you are on par with the industry standard — something you can do to show good faith with little cost increase to your organization.
If after reading this post, you are still unsure of whether you need to continue to offer employee benefits for an employee 65 years or older or have any other questions about employee benefits, get in touch with us today!