CARP welcomes reinstatement of pilots aged 65, 67 – calls on federal government to end age discrimination for everyone else

November 8th, 2010

TORONTO, ON: CARP welcomes the reinstatement of two Air Canada pilots with full seniority after a seven year battle against age discrimination and calls on the federal government to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to end mandatory retirement for all employees in federally regulated industries.

Today, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal released its long-awaited decision on the reinstatement of two Air Canada pilots, George Vilven, 67 and Neil Kelly, 65 whose employment was terminated in 2003 and 2005 respectively by reason of the mandatory retirement provisions of their collective agreement.

The decision is attached and may be found at: click here

Some quotes from that August 2009 Rights Decision: click here

To read a backgrounder CARP prepared on the case, please click here

The Tribunal:

ordered the two pilots to be reinstated at full seniority ruled that the damages would be determined as of September 1, 2009 immediately following the Tribunals earlier ruling that the their employment was wrongfully terminated on the basis of age but not retroactive to the date of termination; and declined to issue a cease order forcing Air Canada to stop terminating its pilots employment at age 60. CARP welcomes the positive outcome for these pilots but is also calling for section 15[1][c] of the Canadian Human Rights Act to be repealed. The courts are doing what the federal government has declined to do [although all Parties have campaigned on it] but it is a long, arduous and costly process and still leaves things in a state of some uncertainty, said Susan Eng, VP Advocacy for CARP This will be welcome news for all Canadians that one more element of age discrimination has been undone at least for Air Canada pilots – but the decision is especially important for those people who must stay in the labour force for economic reasons or simply for the dignity of work, added Eng. The case deals strictly with the issue of mandatory retirement in the federal jurisdiction;namely, do employers in federally regulated industries have the right to terminate the employment of individuals on the basis of an arbitrary age? And does the Canadian Human Rights Act which purports to allow such age discrimination contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? The Tribunal found in favour of the pilots in August, 2009 that their Charter rights were violated. It then held a hearing earlier this year to determine the remedy that should result from that violation of their rights. Todays decision provides that answer.

In declining to use its discretionary power to order Air Canada to cease its practice of requiring its pilots to retire at age 60, the Tribunal made it clear that the decision in the case for these two pilots does not conclude the issue of whether mandatory retirement is eliminated for everyone else in federally regulated industries or even other pilots at Air Canada. That will depend on the results of the appeal to the Federal Court [Please see Backgrounder]. Until then, everyone else besides the two named pilots will have to engage in a similarly arduous legal process to establish their rights.
For this reason, the Fly-Past 60 Coalition and CARP have called for legislative change to remove Section 15[1][c] of the Canadian Human Rights Act. A Private Members Bill, C-481, to make that amendment, sponsored by Liberal MP, Raymonde Folco, is currently before Parliament, and on November 15th will face a vote to determine whether the Bill receives second reading and proceeds to Committee.

CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada, social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. CARP seeks to ensure that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and provides value-added benefits, products and services to our members. Through our network of chapters across Canada, CARP is dedicated to building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARPs mission.

Keywords: mandatory retirement, ageism