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Age as a protected ground

Under the Alberta Human Rights Act (the Act), age is a ground that is protected from discrimination. The Act defines age as 18 years of age or older, which means that individuals 18 and older are protected from age discrimination. It is a contravention of the Act to discriminate against individuals based on their age (18 or older) in the protected areas listed below, with specified exceptions in the areas of services and tenancy.

Age is protected in these areas:

  • Statements, publications, notices signs, symbols, emblems or other representations that are published, issued or displayed before the public
  • Goods, services, accommodation or facilities that are customarily available to the public* (referred to as “services” on this page)
  • Tenancy*
  • Employment practices
  • Employment applications or advertisements
  • Membership in trade unions, employers' organizations or occupational associations

*Before January 1, 2018, age was not a protected ground in the area of services or the area of tenancy.

Exceptions that allow for age restrictions in the areas of services and tenancy

There are three exceptions specified in the Act that allow for age restrictions in the areas of services and tenancy: benefits for minors or seniors; seniors-only housing; and age-restricted condominiums, co-operative housing units and mobile home sites, providing the age restrictions were in place before January 1, 2018.

Benefits for minors or seniors

  • Programs that provide benefits to minors or seniors, such as discounted movie tickets and reduced bus fares, are allowed under the Act.
  • Seniors can be defined by the service provider offering the benefit as 55 years or any older age.
  • Minors are considered to be under 18 years of age.

Seniors-only housing

  • Seniors-only housing is allowed so that older Albertans can choose to live together in a community of people at a similar life stage.
  • The minimum age cut-off for seniors-only housing is 55 years of age. Communities can set age restrictions that are older than 55 as well.
  • This applies to housing where all units are reserved for one or more people, at least one of whom is 55.

Age-restricted condominiums, co-operative housing units and mobile home sites that existed before January 1, 2018

The Act protects members of the public against discrimination by condominium corporations, co-operatives and mobile home landlords, which are included under the protected area of services.

  • Existing age-restricted condominiums, co-operatives and mobile home sites are allowed for a 15-year transition period, which started on January 1, 2018 and ends on December 31, 2032. By January 1, 2033, these types of housing must convert to all-ages housing or to seniors-only housing.
  • Existing age-restricted condominiums, co-operatives and mobile home sites may change to seniors-only housing during the transition period, even though there may still be residents who do not meet the new age restriction.
  • The transition period applies to condominium units, co-operative housing units and mobile home sites whether they are owner-occupied or rented.

Seniors-only housing is allowed in the area of tenancy

While age restrictions have not been permitted in rental accommodations since January 1, 2018, seniors-only rental housing is allowed under the Act. Rental accommodation designated as seniors-only must meet the criteria described above under “Seniors-only housing.”

In certain situations, exceptions to age restrictions in seniors-only housing are allowed

The Act has an appendix called the Human Rights (Minimum Age for Occupancy) Regulation. This regulation allows for some exceptions to age restrictions in seniors housing so that the following individuals may occupy an owned or rented unit or site designated as seniors-only housing:

  • Individuals who provide home-based personal or health care services to an occupant of the unit or site;
    For example: a tenant’s live-in caregiver.
  • A minor related to an occupant by blood, adoption or marriage, or by virtue of an adult interdependent partnership to an occupant, is also allowed to reside in seniors-only housing, where due to an unforeseen event, the occupant becomes the primary caregiver to the minor after occupancy has commenced; and
    For example: a tenant’s 16-year old grandchild who is now under their primary care.
  • A surviving spouse or adult interdependent partner of a deceased former occupant of the unit or site who lived with the occupant at the time of death.
    For example: a tenant who meets the minimum age restriction dies, leaving their younger spouse. The younger spouse would not meet the minimum age restriction but under the legislation could stay in the unit.

Any other individual whose occupancy is reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances may be permitted to live in the unit or site.

Important information about making a human rights complaint relating to age in the areas of services and tenancy

Age has been protected under the areas of services and tenancy since January 1, 2018. The Commission can accept age-related complaints in these areas only if they are related to incidents that occurred on or after January 1, 2018. In a complaint that cites multiple alleged incidents of discrimination that took place both before and after December 31, 2017, only the incidents that took place after December 31 will be covered under the Act, although the other incidents may be used for context.

Protection from discrimination for individuals under the age of 18

Individuals under the age of 18 are protected from discrimination in all of the protected areas and based on all of the protected grounds except the ground of age. The Alberta Human Rights Commission can accept complaints about discrimination experienced by a person under 18 years of age if the alleged discrimination is based on one or more of the protected grounds of race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status and sexual orientation.

If you have questions about age as a protected ground, please contact the Commission.

Revised: October 30, 2018

Our vision is a vibrant and inclusive Alberta where the rich diversity of people is celebrated and respected, and where everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in society, free from discrimination.