July 18, 2008
Dear Prime Ministers and Premiers:
CARP is calling on all first ministers to make a clear statement against age discrimination in all its forms by amending your legislation to remove the pension exemption for mandatory retirement.
Today’s Supreme Court decision in the case of New Brunswick (Human Rights Commission) v. Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc., 2008 SCC 45 ruled against an employee who was forced to retire pursuant to the provisions of his pension plan.
The narrow majority [4:3] decision turned on the legitimacy of the pension plan and the dissenting opinion could be read as challenging the constitutionality of the pension exemption contained in most of the provincial human rights codes. At the very least, the dissent emphasized the importance of containing and justifying any limitation on the protection against age discrimination which is the clear intent of the recent amendments to the provincial human rights codes.
The Supreme Court did not specifically rule on whether the exemption [Section 3[a] of the New Brunswick Human Rights Act] was unconstitutional. When ruling directly on the constitutionality of provisions that keep age discrimination in the form of mandatory retirement, judicial thinking [including the dissenting decision in this case] is more in line with most Canadians who expect to keep working in fulfilling careers, regardless of their chronological age.
The Supreme Court was bound by the provincial legislation in this case so CARP urges the provinces and the federal government to amend their law to eliminate age discrimination once and for all.
CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination; ensuring that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and providing value-added benefits, products and services to members; and building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARP’s mission.
Vice President, Advocacy of CARP