Insurance Policy Language Does Not Trump Contracted Benefits

|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 02/05/2011

Following the coming into force of amendments to the provincial Human Rights Code that ended mandatory retirement, five workers over the age of 65 grieved when their employer ceased paying their benefits.

While the union argued that the plain language meaning of contract entitlements to benefits for all permanent, full-time employees also applied to these senior workers, the employer took the position that the standard insurance policy language specifying the termination of benefits at age 65 applied.

Before the Arbitrator, the employer argued that amendments to the law that now permit workers to continue working beyond the age of 65 did not affect the age-based limitations on benefit entitlements as outlined in its insurance policies. The entitlements to benefits written into the collective agreement needed to be viewed through the lens of the limitations specified by the language of the insurance policy, the employer said.