News / Edmonton

Courts say ‘no’ to ageism in Alberta

Age will soon be a discriminating factor under the Alberta Human Rights Act.

MLA David Shepherd hopes ending discrimination based on age stops landlords from refusing to rent to families.

Metro file

MLA David Shepherd hopes ending discrimination based on age stops landlords from refusing to rent to families.

It will soon be illegal to discriminate based on age in Alberta—in the same way you can’t discriminate based on disability, marital status or sexual orientation.

On Friday, lawyer Allan Garber made an application to the Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench on behalf of his client, well-known seniors advocate Ruth Adria, to add age as a discriminating factor to the Alberta Human Rights Act.

The court approved the motion. And that makes Alberta the last province to prohibit ageism, Garber said.

“They realized that they had to get in step with the rest of Canada. But it’s also the right thing to do, whether or not they’re in step, it’s the right thing to do."

Garber said ageism is usually associated with seniors. Take driver testing, which is based solely on age, not medical condition, a practice he said affects seniors “profoundly.”

Still, he said, there are likely instances of young people being discriminated against, too, such as if a landlord refuses to rent to a younger person.

Edmonton - Centre MLA David Shepherd thinks that's the case.

He said he hopes the ruling ends discrimination against families by disallowing adult-only buildings in Alberta, which can see people who have children kicked out or not allowed.

“As a representative in the downtown core I recognize that having more families in our community adds to urban vibrancy, helps support local business and really adds a lot to our local communities,” he said.

The province now has the next year to work out any exceptions. Selling cigarettes and alcohol to minors, for example, will probably remain illegal, Garber said.

“This applies to elderly people, to young people, it applies to a whole gamut of the population so they’re going to have to figure out which age-based exemptions should apply.”

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