The Alberta Human Rights Amendment Act, 2017 would strengthen human rights protection and further protect Albertans from age discrimination.
If passed, the bill would amend the Alberta Human Rights Act to add “age” as a prohibited ground of discrimination under sections 4 and 5 of the act. These sections include the areas of tenancy, goods, services and accommodation or facilities.
“Our government supports the rights of all Albertans. We want to thank organizations and Albertans who provided feedback on this topic. This is a complicated issue and, if passed, Bill 23 would strike a balance between competing interests.”
~Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
The bill also includes provisions which allow seniors-only housing to continue without violating the act. The minimum age cut-off would be 55. The Government of Alberta recognizes that older Albertans may choose to live together in a community of people at a similar stage in life.
Existing age-restricted condominiums would be granted a 15-year transition period to provide affected Albertans with substantial notice.
“The belief that individuals should have a choice in their housing and lifestyle decisions is strongly supported by the condominium owners we consulted with in Alberta. At the same time, we recognize the national trend that restrictions by age can affect communities where there is a critical shortage of housing. As a result, we feel that the 15-year transition period is a reasonable and common sense solution to allow existing condominium owners to make consumer decisions.”
~Hugh Willis, co-chair, Government Advocacy Committee, Canadian Condominium Institute, North Alberta Chapter
“The largest increase in demographics is older adults in Alberta. With this proposed legislation change, older adults can be assured of fairness in the areas of tenancy, goods, services and accommodations or facilities. Typically, older adults are not able to increase their financial resources to have a wider range of housing options available to them plus enjoy a life that is usually quieter. The fairness of government proposing 15 years as a transition period is appreciated.”
~Luanne Whitmarsh, president, Alberta Association of Senior Centres
The proposed amendments would ensure that programs providing a benefit to minors and seniors, such as discounted movie tickets, are allowed to continue.
The bill would also protect ameliorative programs such as employment or internship programs for Indigenous youth. Prior to the introduction of this legislation, Alberta was the only jurisdiction in Canada whose human rights legislation did not provide an exception for ameliorative programs or activities.
The Government of Alberta conducted consultations on this subject over the summer.
“The Alberta Human Rights Commission’s mandate is to foster equality and reduce discrimination. The proposed amendments extend protections in all areas under the Alberta Human Rights Act and aim to further protect and promote the human rights of Albertans.”
~Susan Coombes, acting director, Education and Engagement, Alberta Human Rights Commission
If passed, the bill would come into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
- Due to a court order consented to on Jan. 6, 2017, as of Jan. 6, 2018, age will be added as a prohibited ground of discrimination in sections 4 and 5.
- Section 4 of the act protects against discrimination when any goods, services, accommodation or facilities normally available to the public are provided.
- Section 5 prohibits discrimination regarding tenancy, including commercial tenancy and residential rental accommodations.
- Age is currently a prohibited ground of discrimination in all areas other than sections 4 and 5.
- Age is defined in the act to mean “18 years of age or older.” Given this, adding age to sections 4 and 5 of the act will not, for example, require bars to admit minors, or young children to be given drivers’ licences.
- Age-restricted condominiums that wish to can transition to being seniors-only during the transition period, notwithstanding continued occupancy by individuals who do not meet the seniors-only age-restriction.