Protection of ‘age’ In Human Rights Legislation

The Ontario Code prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of age in all social areas covered by the Code[71]. All other Canadian jurisdictions provide protection for discrimination on the basis of age in employment[72]. With the exception of Alberta, British Columbia and Newfoundland, all Canadian jurisdictions also provide the protection in relation to accommodation, facilities and services generally available to the public.  Furthermore, most jurisdictions accord protection from discrimination on the basis of age with respect to residential and commercial tenancies and in relation to the purchase and sale of property (in particular: British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan).

In Ontario, there is no upper limit on age in the areas of housing, goods, services and facilities, contracts and vocational associations.  However, in employment there is a maximum age for discrimination, namely 65[73]. In other words, in employment only, the Code does not protect against discrimination on the basis of age where the individual is 65 years of age or more.  That is not to say that persons 65 or over do not receive the protection of s. 5(1) of the Code; they can still complain about discrimination in employment on the basis of any ground other than age.

A few other Canadian jurisdictions define age by setting a maximum age[74]. In British Columbia, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, as in Ontario, the maximum age limit for a claim in employment on the basis of age is 65.  In Saskatchewan only the maximum limit also applies to other areas of discrimination (e.g. services).  In all cases, the maximum is set at 65 years of age which, following a long history, has became a standard retirement age in several jurisdictions and is also the age when various pension benefits commence.

[71] In sections 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6.
[72] The discussion of the age discrimination provisions in Canadian jurisdictions is from R.W. Zinn & P.P. Brethour, The Law of Human Rights in Canada: Practice and Procedure (Aurora: Canada Law Book, 1999).
[73] Definition of “age” in s. 10(1) of the Code.
[74] As this paper only considers human rights issues facing older persons, a discussion of minimum age requirements in many Codes, including the Ontario Code, has been omitted.