Mandatory Retirement and Bill C-481… More Ottawa Balderdash on the Horizon?

In the last issue of CARP Action Online we gave readers a peek at the Submission with which we presented the Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) Committee in Ottawa February 15th 2011. We were in fact taking your views on Bill C-481 (Bill to end mandatory retirement) straight to Ottawa as we also presented members with our mandatory retirement polling results. CARP members had also E-Voiced their MPs to let them know they should support the bill on second reading and lo and behold, it passed! Jog your memory of the CARP submission and poll by clicking here.

At Committee were George Vilven, 67 and Neil Kelly, 65, Air Canada pilots who were retired against their will and, after lengthy court battles, reinstated at full seniority, with damages. Speaking against the bill were the Air Canada Pilots’ Union, FETCO, a federal industry lobby group, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce which argued for amendments that would allow pension plans to stipulate mandatory retirement. CARP told the Committee that any such amendment would effectively gut the Bill.
On March 8th, the Bill passed in Committee – passing one more hurdle to becoming law. But, unless Parliament expedites passage on third reading, followed by Senate approval and Royal Assent, the bill could die on the order papers, a real threat with a federal election looming.

While the Liberals were all staunchly in favour of the Bill, the NDP seemed confused and there seemed to be some real dissent in the Conservative ranks… Labour Minister Lisa Raitt was (appropriately) on the record saying that abolishing the practice of mandatory retirement would benefit both workers AND the economy while her Parliamentary Secretary, Ed Komarnicki was bending over backwards to gut the bill (to the industry lobbyists’ great delight). Komarnicki was trying to table the bill and introduce pension plan exemptions that would have rendered the whole legislative exercise largely pointless! At the end of the day the Bill was passed in Committee despite all of Komarnicki’s maneuvering.

But don’t uncork the champagne quite yet…

Unless there is unanimous consent in the House of Commons to expedite passage, Bill C-481 will die on the order papers as soon as an election is called – possible as early as this month! If this happens, all of the work invested in this particular bill will have been for naught and it will have to pass first and second reading as well as be dragged kicking and screaming through committee ALL OVER AGAIN. At election time, we will have paid our lawmakers to go through this rigmarole and produce absolutely no change in the status quo. Balderdash, baloney… Whatever you choose to call it, it’s still not justice for those who are tossed out based on age not ability.

Keywords: mandatory retirement