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Mar 21, 2013

Disability Benefits

By Anu Bakshi

Many people struggle to go back to work after disabling events like car accidents or serious illness. By looking at your employment benefits policy, you will know what you are entitled to.

Many people return to work on modified duties and hours, but often miss days for medical treatment or because of constant pain. People make honest attempts to return to work only to find out that their positions are terminated.

In the case of Brito v. Canac Kitchens, Luis Romero Olguin, who worked for Canac Kitchens for 24 years when he was terminated, the Court of Appeal  ruled that employees are covered by disability and medical benefits throughout  the reasonable notice period. Upon his dismissal, Mr. Olguin was paid only the minimum statutory notice under the Employment Standards Act, and his disability insurance coverage was extended to 8 weeks.  Mr. Olguin found a job at a lower wage for 15 months.

A year and half later, Mr. Olguin was diagnosed with cancer when he underwent a series of surgeries as well as chemotherapy.  He sued his former employer claiming wrongful dismissal damages as well as STD and LTD benefits.

The trial judge concluded that Mr.  Olguin had been wrongfully dismissed from his employment.  He was entitled to reasonable notice of 22 months (88 weeks).  The Judge also found that Mr. Oguin was entitled to disability benefits during the notice period and the onset of disability benefits had occurred during the notice period.  Looking at the evidence before him, the Judge found Mr. Olguin was disabled under the policy.  Mr. Olguin was awarded disability benefits to age 65, equating to approximately $150,000.00, with the benefits being paid by his former employer.

 This case shows that if you have health issues and your employment is  terminated, your disability coverage must be extended throughout the notice period, unless otherwise stated in your employment contract.  If disability coverage is not extended throughout, the employer may be on the hook for disability benefits as if it was an Insurer.

 Read the fine print of your workplace insurance policies but more importantly, have a lawyer look at your employment contract and releases.


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