Albertans no longer discriminated by age as province forbids under human rights

It’s unclear why Alberta decided to be the last province to hold out on this ground.
It’s unclear why Alberta decided to be the last province to hold out on this ground. (Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Alberta is finally going to make ageism a ground for discrimination.

An Edmonton court has recently ruled that age is going to be a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act.

Up until now, age was not listed as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the act when it came to such things as tenancies and goods and services, even though age is mentioned in the act. All other provinces have included age as a discrimination ground in their human rights codes for years.

It’s unclear why Alberta decided to be the last province to hold out on this ground but the court’s go ahead on Friday has been greeted with cheers by many advocates.

That includes the well-known seniors’ advocate, Ruth Adria, who fought for the change.

"Over half a million Alberta citizens, their rights are violated under the Charter. . . They do not have equal benefit of the law or protection of the law," Adria told CBC News.

Seniors in Alberta have faced discrimination when it comes to such things as drivers testing, which is age based and affects seniors “profoundly.”

However, this decision doesn’t just affect the elderly but the young as well. There have been situations in Alberta in which landlords refuse to rent to families, because the property is an adult-only building and they don’t want families as tenants. It’s likely the prohibited age discrimination inclusion will make it a lot tougher for them to do so.

That leaves the question of why Alberta waited this long to make age a prohibited ground. That’s a question that also baffled Adria’s lawyer, Allan Garber, who explained the court’s decision by saying, “They realized that they had to get in step with the rest of Canada. But it’s also the right thing to do, whether or not they’re in step, it’s the right thing to do.”

The court gave the province one year to figure out the exemptions the government wants to make under the newly prohibited ground, then it will become law.

Garber said they will be watching closely to see what exemptions the government makes under the new ground to ensure they don’t go against seniors’ interests.

Find a Lawyer