Age discrimination and the Alberta Human Rights Act.

Author:McKay-Panos, Linda

Recently, the Alberta government agreed to add protection for age discrimination in the Alberta Human Rights Act (AHRA) in two areas--tenancy and services, goods and accommodation customarily available to the public. This was the result of a Consent Order on January 13, 2017 in the case of Ruth Maria Adria v Attorney General of Alberta. Age will be covered in these areas in effective January 2018. "Age" was already covered in employment, notices and membership in trade unions. This case was very similar to that of Delwin Vriend, 1998, when the Court held that the absence of protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation in the Individual's Rights Protection Act, RSA 1980 (IRPA) violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 15(1). The difference is that in Vriend, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered that the words "sexual orientation" be read into the IRPA. This time, the government agreed that the AHRA should be amended.

It is interesting to look at the history of legal protection for age discrimination. First, it is generally accepted that youth and elders experience the most effects of age discrimination. Yet, originally the definition of "age" in the Individual's Rights Protection Act, 1972, (IRPA) was "between 18 and 65". So the two most vulnerable groups were originally excluded from protection in all areas covered under the IRPA. The upper limit of age 65 was removed from the definition of "age" in the 1980s, so at least elders were protected from discrimination in some areas.

After a review of the IRPA (Equal in Dignity and Rights, 1994), the Review Panel recommended that age be covered in all areas and that the lower age limit be removed. This would be in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It is clear that the addition of coverage of age in two areas will definitely be welcomed by all, especially seniors. This group is especially vulnerable and deeply affected by discrimination in all of the areas covered by the...

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