My colleague Jenelle Butler writes in the attached link about the long standing saga between Air Canada and its pilots on the issue of Mandatory Retirement. The end of the story is that at present Air Canada does not have its prior mandatory retirement age of 60, as the federal legislation that permitted that was removed and human rights prohibits discrimination based on age, both federally and in all of the provinces.
Similarly here in Alberta, case law from over 20 years ago had established that school bus drivers could be forced into mandatory retirement at age 65 given the statistics on increasing accidents at that age and a lack of science and testing at that time to be proactive in testing the abilities and safety of aging drivers. More recently our Human Rights Commission has moved away from this older case law and approach and indicated that a policy that draws a hard line based on age will not be valid; and instead employers need to focus on monitoring, evaluating and taking action based on actual skill, ability and health to perform the duties of a position without risk to others.
So while forced mandatory retirement at a fixed age is a dead issue in most cases; employers must not lose sight of the fact that it is still their right and safety obligation, to reasonably monitor employee ability to safely perform their duties. In my view, there is absolutely nothing wrong with an employer implementing additional checks and balances to ensure safe performance with aging safety sensitive employees, particularly when potential safety concerns or signs are observed.
Therefore employers must look at such circumstances, not as a "retirement age" issue but instead a "safety issue" of which age and deteriorating health may be an important and relevant factor to monitor and take action on.
In Alberta, and now, federally, following the change to the CHRA, the application of mandatory retirement policies will result in discrimination on the basis of age, a protected characteristic under human rights legislation. Unless the policy can be proven to be based on a bona fide occupational requirement, discrimination will be found, exposing the employer to a damages award, back pay, and potentially, reinstatement.