Age-based payments discriminatory: Tribunal

Decision potentially affects standards of declining pension plan compensation after a certain age
By Norm Keith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/14/2010

In a landmark ruling, a Quebec workers’ compensation tribunal has ruled reducing injured workers’ income replacement benefits, including reduction at the traditional retirement age of 65, offends both provincial human rights legislation and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In the decision Côté v. Traverse Rivière-du-Loup, St.-Saint-Siméon, the tribunal held Quebec’s workers’ compensation legislation discriminated against workers on the basis of age and, as a result, it was in breach of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The case involved Bernard Côté, a 64-year-old worker who was injured on the job. His entitlement to workers’ compensation payments was reduced by 25 per cent from the second year of the date of his disability, by 50 per cent from the third year and 75 per cent from the fourth year of his entitlement. This was based on the schedule of declining benefits set out in the legislation. Côté argued this age-based reduction was discriminatory under the relevant charter provisions.