Bill 23 amends Alberta Human Rights Act to add age as prohibited ground of discrimination in sections 4 and 5 of the Act

Overview

On Jan 6, 2017, the Court of Queen’s Bench gave the Government of Alberta one year before “age” was added as a prohibited ground of discrimination in sections 4 and 5 of the Alberta Human Rights Act (the Act).

Section 4 of the Act protects against discrimination in the area of goods, services, accommodation or facilities that are customarily available to the public.

Section 5 prohibits discrimination regarding tenancy.

Bill 23, Alberta Human Rights Amendment Act, 2017, was passed on November 14, 2017 to protect Albertans from age discrimination in these areas. The bill will come into force on January 1, 2018.

Important information about making a human rights complaint relating to age under sections 4 and 5:

  • The Commission cannot accept complaints on the ground of age under sections 4 and 5 until the amendments come into force on January 1, 2018.
  • Only incidents that occur on or after January 1, 2018 will be covered by the new protection.
Age amendments

Bill 23 adds “age” as a prohibited ground of discrimination in sections 4 and 5 of the Act.

Three exceptions will allow specific types of age distinctions to continue without violating the Act:

1. Benefits for seniors and minors

  • Programs that provide benefits to minors or seniors, such as discounted movie tickets, can continue.
  • Seniors can be defined as 55 or any older age.
  • Minors are defined as under 18.
2. Seniors-only housing
  • Seniors-only (55+) housing will continue so older Albertans can choose to live together in a community of people at a similar life stage.
  • This applies to housing where all units are reserved for one or more people, at least one of whom is 55. Communities can choose any age that is 55 or older.
  • Regulations may set out additional details.
3. Existing age-restricted condominiums
  • Will be granted a 15-year transition period to allow existing condominium owners to make decisions on where they want to live.
  • Could change to seniors-only housing during the transition period, even though there are still people in the residence who do not meet the new age restriction.
  • This transition period applies to condominium units whether they are owner-occupied or rented.
Rental buildings

Age restrictions will not be permitted in rental buildings after Jan 1, 2018, unless they meet the exception for seniors-only buildings.
Ameliorative programs and activities
Bill 23 also protects ameliorative programs and activities, which are designed to improve the condition of disadvantaged people. An example of this is employment or internship programs for Indigenous youth.

Before 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.

Bill 23 aims to balance Albertans' housing and lifestyle choices, the effect age restrictions can have on communities with housing shortages, and the human rights of those excluded by age restrictions.

Timeline

1. The bill comes into force on Jan 1, 2018.
2. Age restrictions will not be permitted in rental buildings after Jan 1, 2018, unless they meet the exception for seniors-only buildings.
3. The Commission will not accept complaints on the ground of age under sections 4 and 5 of the Act until the amendments come into force on January 1, 2018.
4. Existing age restrictions in condominiums will be allowed until Dec 31, 2032.
Page created: November 16, 2017  

The Alberta Human Rights Commission is an independent commission of the Government of Alberta.

Due to confidentiality concerns, the Commission cannot reply to complaints of discrimination by email. Please contact the Commission by phone or regular mail if you have a specific complaint.

You can access information about making FOIP requests for records held by the Commission on our Contact us page.

The Commission will make publications available in accessible formats upon request for people with disabilities who do not read conventional print.