June 2007 Focus Update #117

Nova Scotia and B.C. to eliminate mandatory retirement

Nova Scotia
On March 29, 2007, Nova Scotia introduced Bill 163, An Act Respecting the Elimination of Mandatory Retirement. The bill received royal assent April 13, 2007, and takes effect July 1, 2009.

This two-year window gives employers time to prepare (e.g. negotiate collective agreements) for changes to the various pieces of legislation affected by Bill 163. Among the changes, a revised provincial Human Rights Act will prohibit employers from forcing mandatory retirement at age 65.

Bill 163 adds in a bona fide occupational requirement exclusion. This means that certain jobs such as fire fighters and pilots may justifiably have a mandatory retirement age if a worker’s age could significantly affect his or her ability to do the job. Exclusions must be approved by the Human Rights Commission.

The legislation won’t affect eligibility for retirement under pension plans.

British Columbia
On April 25, 2007, British Columbia introduced Bill 31, Human Rights Code (Mandatory Retirement Elimination) Amendment Act. Currently sitting at first reading, the bill is expected to move quickly and, if passed, will take effect January 1, 2008.

Bill 31 would change the definition of "age" to remove the current upper age limit of 65 years. The legislation also provides that the determination of premiums or benefits under contracts of life or health insurance may continue to differentiate on the basis of age without contravening the Human Rights Code.

Impact on your plan
We don’t see any necessary contract changes resulting from either province’s legislation. Both maintain current exclusions with respect to employee benefits plans. However, you may want to seek advice to ensure you understand the full impact of these changes on all of your human resources practices.

If you want to provide coverage for plan members over 65
With the exception of Long Term Disability, which terminates at 65, we can offer the option to continue benefits beyond age 65.  Generally, Extended Health Care and Dental can be offered to the earlier of age 70 or retirement.  Life and Accidental Death & Dismemberment coverage also extends to age 70.  Some exceptions to these standards may be available.

We will continue to review our product portfolio to ensure we’re able to meet the needs of plan members staying in the workforce beyond age 65.

For more information

If you have any questions, please contact your Group Benefits representative.