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List of Acronyms

Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA)

Canadian Loss Experience Rating System (CLEAR)

Canadian Standards Association (CSA)

Coalition for Fair and Just Treatment of Ontarians (CFJTO)

Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO)

HIV-AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario (HALCO)

Independent Financial Brokers of Canada (IFBC)
(Formerly the Independent Life Insurance Brokers of Canada and the Independent Financial Services Brokers of Canada)

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC)

Insurance Information Division of IBC (IID)

Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC)

Institute of Insurance and Pension Research (IIPR)

"Code" Rights and Exceptions

The Ontario Human Rights Code provides for protections and exceptions to discrimination in insurance. Section 1 of the Code prohibits discrimination in services, while Section 3 prohibits discrimination in contracts, which would therefore prohibit discrimination in insurance services and contracts. Section 5 prohibits discrimination in employment which would include employee benefit plans that relate to insurance.

Section 10 defines the term "group insurance" as a single contract of life insurance or life and disability insurance, which insures a number of persons. The contract is between an insurer and an association, employer or other person.

Section 11 prohibits discrimination resulting from the use of a general rule or condition that, although applied to all individuals, might have an indirect or adverse impact on individuals identified by a prohibited ground.

Finally, there are four insurance-related defences (or exemptions) available to respondents under sections 22 and 25 of the Code. The Board of Inquiry in Thornton [14] accepted that the Code sets out the following hierarchy of defences, each with an increasing number of pre-conditions:

  • Section 22 provides that automobile, life, accident or sickness or disability insurance or group insurance or life annuity policies, not part of an employment situation, may make distinctions based on age, sex, marital status, same-sex partnership status and family status, or handicap, but these distinctions must be made on reasonable and bona fide grounds.
  • Section 25(2) provides that employee pension or group insurance plans based on age, sex, marital status, same-sex partnership status or family status do not offend the Code if they comply with the regulations under the Employment Standards Act.
  • Section 25(3)(a) provides that other employee disability or life insurance contracts may make distinctions based on disability provided the distinction is reasonable and bona fide and based on a pre-existing handicap that substantially increases the risk.
  • Section 25(3)(b) provides that group insurance plans for employee groups with fewer than 25 members may make distinctions based on disability, provided that the distinction is reasonable and bona fide and made on the ground of a pre-existing handicap.

Selected Case Law

Brooks v. Canada Safeway Ltd. (1989), 10 C.H.R.R. D/6183 (S.C.C.)

Zurich Insurance Co. v. Ontario (Human Rights Comm.) (1992), 16 C.H.R.R. D/255 (S.C.C.)

Thornton v. North American Life Assurance Co. (No.5) (1992), 17 C.H.R.R. D/481 (Ont. B.O.I)

Co-Operators General Insurance Co. v. Alberta (Human Rights Commission), [1993] A.J. No. 828, DRS 95-02920, Appeal No. 9103-0466-AC (Alta. C.A.)

Ontario (Human Rights Comm.) v. North American Life Assurance Co. (1995), 23 C.H.R.R. D/1

Gibbs v. Battlefords and Dist. Co-operative Ltd. (1996), 27 C.H.R.R. D/87 (S.C.C.)

Kane v. Ontario (Attorney General) (1997),152 D.L.R. (4th) 738.

[14] Thornton v. North American Life Assurance Co. (No.5) (1992), 17 C.H.R.R. D/481 (Ont. B.O.I)

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