For immediate publication
Toronto - Today, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton released Time for Action: Advancing Human Rights of Older Ontarians, a report that summarizes and reviews input received from individuals, government and community organizations across Ontario during the Commission's consultation on age discrimination.
"Older people encounter barriers daily which hinder their independence, security and full participation in our communities," said Mr. Norton. "This report clearly demonstrates that negative attitudes and stereotypes about age have become ingrained in our social structures," he added. "Ageism reveals itself in the form of individual acts of discrimination, or through broader forms of unequal treatment expressed in policies, programs or legislation."
"We have been told that a central issue for older persons is the freedom to make fundamental life choices for themselves; particularly on the issue of mandatory retirement. Based on this input, the Commission is recommending that the Ontario Human Rights Code be amended to extend human rights protections to workers over 65," stated the Chief Commissioner. "This should not result in forcing people to work longer, nor is that the intent. Rather, this will enable older workers who are capable of performing the essential duties of their jobs to continue to work, if they so choose," he added.
The Report contains twenty-nine recommendations for government and community action and ten commitments pledged by the Commission itself. "To keep pace with the changing needs of an aging population, it is urgent that we act decisively on the emerging issues that have been identified in the report. To fail to act today, will make it more difficult in the future to address the concerns being voiced about employment, health care, housing and social services for older persons," said Mr. Norton.
The Commission's work in the area of age discrimination began in 1999, the International Year of the Older Person. In July 2000, the Commission produced a Discussion Paper titled Discrimination and Age: Human rights issues facing older persons, which led to public consultations across the province in the fall of 2000.
For copies of the Report, Discussion Paper and the Consultation Paper on age discrimination please visit the Commission's Web site.