Grey power

3 recent cases highlight risks of changing health benefits for retirees
By Josée Dumoulin
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/30/2014

The decision to reduce post-retirement benefits for retirees does not come without legal risk. Reductions of this nature have been the subject of various legal challenges by Canadian retirees in recent years. While retirees contested their former employer’s right to proceed with such reductions after their retirement, many of these claims were settled prior to any judgment being rendered.

However, two recent decisions addressed the validity of changes to post-retirement programs for non-unionized employees — the decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Lacey v. Weyerhaeuser Company Limited and the ruling of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in O’Neill v. General Motors of Canada.

In addition, early this year, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision in Vivendi Canada Inc. v. Dell’Aniello, whereby it confirmed the authorization granted to a group of retirees to institute a class action in Quebec in connection with changes made to their post-retirement coverage.