For immediate publication
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today released a discussion paper entitled Discrimination and Age: Human Rights Issues Facing Older Persons in Ontario, and announced consultations on human rights issues facing older persons in Ontario.
"It is the Commission's role to flag emerging human rights concerns. With our aging population there are compelling reasons for rethinking attitudes towards aging and how we approach age discrimination," noted Chief Commissioner Keith Norton. "Given the increase in Ontario's aging population, we expect to see more complaints of age discrimination," added Mr. Norton. "Longer life expectancies mean people can work productively longer. But right now, our human rights laws don't protect workers over 65 from age discrimination. These people are going to say, 'Hold it. Why doesn't the Human Rights Code protect me against discrimination based on age?'" remarked Mr. Norton.
The Commission has noted that there appears to be more tolerance for age discrimination than there is for discrimination on other grounds such as race or sex. Older workers in particular often face stereotypical attitudes. These include assumptions that they are less ambitious, hardworking and dynamic and that they are more resistant to, or are unable to cope with, technological change. Such attitudes place older workers at an increased risk for discriminatory treatment. The paper identifies trends and critical issues related to age, and makes recommendations to promote the human rights of older persons. It also proposes that where employers choose not to implement mandatory retirement, older workers should have the benefit of human rights protections.
The Commission will initiate a consultation to receive comments on the paper, identify human rights issues in relation to aging, and ensure the protection of older workers, including those who remain employed after age 65. Attention will also be paid to housing, services and facilities for persons over 65 years of age. Consultations with stakeholders are planned for the Fall of 2000.
Discussion papers and consultations are part of the development of public policy at the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Discussion papers provide research and background information and propose policy directions. Consultations promote understanding and encourage community input on the Commission's approach to human rights issues.
Copies of the discussion paper are available on the Ontario Human Rights Commission Web site. Further information about the consultations will also be available in the Fall.
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