Canadian Law Ends Mandatory Retirement

July 3, 2006 ( - A law set to go into effect in Canada on December 12, 2006 will make it illegal for employers to mandate retirement for workers age 65 and older.

Mandatory retirement policies have been permitted by workplaces under the Ontario Human Rights Code, according to The Ottawa Business Journal. The Code prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of age, but defines age as over 18 and under 65, which allows for policies that require retirement of workers age 65 and over.

Bill 211, the Ending Mandatory Retirement Statute Law Amendment Act, amends the definition of age in the Code to “an age that is 18 years or more,” according to the news report. The Act extends protection from discrimination for those over the age of 65.

There is an exception if an employer can establish that requiring retirement at a specific age is a “bona fide occupational requirement.” The employer must prove that the nature of the job makes retirement at a certain age essential. Occupations such as police officer, firefighter, and bus driver may fall under this exception.

The bill was partly prompted by increasing life spans and improved health of elderly Canadians. According to the news report, when introducing the bill, Minister Steve Peters said, “mandatory retirement…makes no sense in a time when we’re all living longer, healthier, more active lives.”

Longer life spans and concerns about future labor shortages due to an aging population have also prompted calls to end early retirement incentives, including provisions that allow Canadians to receive Canada and Quebec pension plan benefits as early as age 60 (See Canadian Stats Show Ending of Early Retirement Trend ).