News release

Mandatory Retirement Ends as a Valid Reason for Age Discrimination

On July 1, mandatory retirement will no longer be exempt from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act.

The act was amended to eliminate the exemption that allowed employers to discriminate on the basis of a person's age by requiring them to retire. These amendments were passed in the April 2007 sitting of the provincial legislature. July 1, 2009 was selected to allow time for workplaces to plan for the transition.

For decades, many people were required to retire at age 65 whether they wanted to or not. In recent years, there has been a gradual shift away from this approach to aging workers.

"People choose whether to retire or not for many reasons based on their own lifestyle, circumstances and priorities. Today, people are living longer and have more active lives. Many want to continue working as they still have a lot to contribute," said Graham Steele, acting Minister responsible for the Human Rights Act.
"Promoting and maintaining a prosperous workforce here in the province is one of government's top priorities," said Marilyn More, Minister of Labour and Workforce Development. "Our experienced workers play an invaluable role in our economy and this is an excellent example of how we will continue to support Nova Scotia families."

These amendments bring Nova Scotia in line with other national and international jurisdictions.

"Mandatory retirement policies undermined the dignity and sense of self-worth of older workers," said Krista Daley, CEO and director, Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. "There will still be situations where, for legitimate reasons, based on job requirements, an employer can require a person to retire, but it can no longer be based on a uniform and artificially constructed age limit."

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission is an independent government commission that is charged with the administration of the province's Human Rights Act. Commission staff investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination and conduct public education and outreach to promote dialogue and respect for human rights.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Amendments to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act to eliminate mandatory retirement policies as an exemption to age discrimination come into effect Wednesday (July 1st).

The amendments were passed in the spring 2007 sitting of the provincial legislature.

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Media Contact:

Krista Daley
Human Rights Commission 902-424-4622