Legislated Age Discrimination Ends – Election Promise Kept


14 December 2011

Election promise kept: legislated age discrimination ends, Air Canada fights on

Toronto, ON: CARP congratulates the government for keeping its election promise to end mandatory retirement at the federal level as a major step forward in eliminating workplace age discrimination.

Section 15(1)(c) of the Canadian Human Rights Act which permits mandatory retirement policies for federally regulated employees was repealed by Bill C-13, the Budget Implementation Bill which has received Third Reading in the Senate and only needs Royal Assent which is anticipated before the Christmas break. The change will take effect one year from the date of Royal Assent. [See attached provisions]

The repeal will finally bring employers and employees in the federal private sector into line with those in the federal public sector and all employers and employees in the provincial jurisdictions that repealed mandatory retirement years ago. This affects about 800,000 employees in federally regulated industries such as finance (banking), transportation (air, rail, inter-provincial trucking) and communications (broadcasting).

“CARP members will be gratified that legislated age discrimination is finally history. After 20 years of election promises by governments of all stripes, this government has finally eliminated mandatory retirement at the federal level. By itself, the repeal does not end workplace age discrimination, as evidenced by major employers still looking for ways to forcibly retire older workers, but this Parliamentary leadership will go a long way to ensuring that people are able to stay in the work force if they need to keep working or simply want the dignity of work”, said Susan Eng, VP Advocacy, CARP.   

Hard lobbying against bringing federally regulated industries into the modern age continued right up to the last minute. Royal Assent of the Bill will be celebrated by the 200 airline pilots who have been shouldering the cause in the courts.

“At the peak of our careers, after we have accumulated decades of experience and despite being certified competent by Transport Canada to perform the job, Air Canada tells us, ‘You are too old to work for us—go work for someone else.’  No matter how much we disagree with that affront to our human dignity, we are given no option by the airline or by our own union but to fight the age-based discrimination through the Human Rights Tribunal and the Courts.  Thankfully, that will now end for those whose employment is scheduled to occur next December, said Raymond D. Hall, retired Air Canada pilot and counsel for the pilots.

Attempts to repeal Section 15(1)(c) started with a Bill introduced in 1992, which died on the Order Paper when an election was called.  In 2000, the Canadian Human Rights Review Panel recommended that mandatory retirement in the federal sector be abolished.  The Chair of that Panel was the former Supreme Court ofCanadajudge who issued the 1990 decision upholding mandatory retirement. Earlier this year, a Private Member’s Bill to repeal the provision passed Second Reading in Parliament but it too died on the Order Paper when the election was called this Spring.

This change has been a long time incoming. Unfortunately, it comes too late for approximately 200 AirCanadapilots who brought this issue to public awareness with their Charter challenge. So far, they have convinced the Federal Court of Canada to find that the mandatory retirement exemption in the Canadian Human Rights Act violates the equality provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Since the exemption was still on the books when they were forcibly retired, they are still mired in litigation and appeals before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and the courts as they seek to regain their employment.

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 CARP’s mission.

For further information, please contact:

Counsel for the pilots:

Raymond D. Hall, Barrister &  Solicitor
2226 West Taylor Boulevard
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3P 2J5
Phone:     204-897-9000
Fax:       1-877-778-8482
E-Mail:   [email protected]
Michael Nicin
CARP Policy Development and Government Relations  
[email protected]


Susan Eng
Vice President Advocacy
[email protected]

Or visit our website: www.carp.ca

CARP, A New Vision of Aging forCanada  

Mandatory Retirement in the Canadian Human Rights Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-6)

Prohibited grounds of discrimination

3. (1) For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.

9. (1) It is a discriminatory practice for an employee organization on a prohibited ground of discrimination

(a) to exclude an individual from full membership in the organization;

(b) to expel or suspend a member of the organization; or

(c) to limit, segregate, classify or otherwise act in relation to an individual in a way  that would deprive the individual of employment opportunities, or limit employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect the status of the individual, where the individual is a member of the organization or where any of the obligations of the organization pursuant to a collective agreement relate to the individual.


(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), it is not a discriminatory practice for an employee organization to exclude, expel or suspend an individual from membership in the organization because that individual has reached the normal age of retirement for individuals working in positions similar to the position of that individual.


15. (1) It is not a discriminatory practice if

(a) any refusal, exclusion, expulsion, suspension, limitation, specification or preference in relation to any employment is established by an employer to be based on a bona fide occupational requirement;

(b) employment of an individual is refused or terminated because that individual has not reached the minimum age, or has reached the maximum age, that applies to that employment by law or under regulations, which may be made by the Governor in Council for the purposes of this paragraph;

(c) an individual’s employment is terminated because that individual has reached the normal age of retirement for employees working in positions similar to the position of that individual;