For immediate publication
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today released its Policy on Discrimination against Older Persons because of Age. This document provides an in-depth look at age discrimination as it relates to present protections in the Human Rights Code. The Policy was developed to help the public and Commission staff to gain a better understanding of how the Code protects older Ontarians and to sensitize them to the issues faced by these persons. It also aims to raise awareness among service providers, employers and landlords of their obligations under the Code.
Since the majority of current human rights complaints about age discrimination are in the area of employment, the Policy emphasizes the older worker. It also explains rights and obligations under the Human Rights Code when it comes to housing issues, and outlines the duty to accommodate special needs in services and facilities, for example, health care and transit services.
"The Policy is in keeping with the broader goals of the Code, which promotes the inherent dignity and worth of everyone and the right to be treated equally without discrimination," noted Chief Commissioner Keith Norton. He added, "Given Ontario's growing population of older persons, we need to look at attitudes towards aging and how such attitudes place older persons at an increased risk for discriminatory treatment."
The Commission's work in the area of age discrimination against older persons was also complemented today by the launch of a public awareness campaign to counteract myths and stereotypes about older persons in partnership with CARP, Canada's Association for the Fifty-Plus.
The province-wide campaign features posters of older people with stickers on their foreheads that state a Best Before age and feature a tagline that states, "Nobody has a shelf life. Stop age discrimination now. It's illegal, and it's just plain wrong." The message is intended to serve as a reminder that negative attitudes about aging should not stand in the way of equal opportunity and participation for older Ontarians.
There are different posters for employment, transit services, health care and housing - four key areas that affect older Ontarians. The first phase focuses on employment and transit services issues faced by older persons. The second phase will run in the Fall when the emphasis will be on health care and housing issues.
Ageism and age discrimination have been the focus of a three-year project by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. In 1999, the International Year of the Older Person, the Commission began researching human rights issues facing older Ontarians. The following year, the Commission released a Discussion Paper and conducted province-wide consultations with more than 100 organizations and individuals. A Consultation Report entitled, Time for Action: Advancing Human Rights for Older Ontarians, released last June, summarized feedback received during the course of the consultations.
Copies of the Policy and consultation documents are available on the Commission's Web site.
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