Bill to ban mandatory retirement clears legislative hurdle, nears law

Originally published by the Canadian Press on December 6th, 2010. To visit the Winnipeg Free Press website where the article is posted please click here

OTTAWA – A private member’s bill to ban mandatory retirement has cleared another legislative hurdle, bringing it one step closer to law.

Bill C-481 passed second reading in the House of Commons today and human-rights groups hope it becomes law before the next federal election.

If passed, the legislation would remove the section of the Canadian Human Rights Act which sets mandatory retirement in federally regulated industries at age 65.

The bill was introduced in by Quebec Liberal Raymonde Falco.

Private member’s bills rarely become law.

Opponents says mandatory retirement is legislated age discrimination.

Last month, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered Air Canada to reinstate two pilots who were forced to retire at age 60, but it did not tell the airline to end mandatory retirement altogether.

The tribunal concluded in August 2009 that the federal retirement legislation was discriminatory, but said its decision was not a legal precedent and only applied to the specific case of the two pilots, ages 65 and 67.

Even though the decision carried no legal weight, the Canadian Association of Retired Persons called it “a monumental step in Canadian jurisprudence.”

The group is urging MPs to “end age discrimination for all federally regulated employees, including those in the transportation, banking and the telecommunications industries.”

“The passage of this legislation will be a triumph for those who value their human dignity and want to continue their employment beyond ages that are arbitrarily chosen by employers and unions to force them out of the workforce,” said Raymond Hall, counsel for the Fly Past 60 Coalition, which supported the pilots’ case.

Susan Eng, vice-president advocacy at the retired persons’ group, said employment should be based on “competence and merit, not arbitrary and discriminatory factors like age.”

She called the bill’s progress welcome news for all Canadians, especially those who must stay in the labour force “for economic reasons or simply for the dignity of work.”

The bill now goes to committee and must return to the Commons for third reading before it is considered by the Senate.

© The Canadian Press

Keywords: mandatory retirement