During the last fifty years, major inroads have been made to reduce discrimination in Canadian society.  This reflects a recognition of the basic dignity of all persons. Non discrimination is an important component of social equality, and Canadian society’s collective wellbeing.

While there have been significant efforts made to challenge stereotyping and prejudices about people’s race or ethnic origin, their sex or sexual orientation, their physical or mental condition, the same is not true for age discrimination  and other related discriminations in later life.

People's age and the stereotypes about aging are frequently used to determine people’s perceived value in the workplace, housing and health areas. Age related stereotypes and prejudgments also influence  the manner in which health and other resources are allocated to them as individuals or as a group.

Unlike other areas of  discrimination based on grounds such as race, ethnic origin, disability or sex, there has not been the same degree of social activism to challenge the stereotypes that underlie age discrimination. The Ontario Human Rights Commission points out:

“Age cases tend to be treated differently than other discrimination cases, particularly where the cases involve retirement issues. The most noticeable difference from a human rights perspective is the lack of a sense of moral opprobrium linked to age discrimination which in comparable circumstances would generate outrage if the ground of discrimination were, say, race, sex or disability.”

It is important to

bulletunderstand the concept of “discrimination”  and ageism; what these mean and the impact on older adults’ lives, as well as on other age groups
bulletrecognize the many forms of discrimination that older adults can experience in employment, housing, health and institutional care,
bulletknow some of the available legal protections for discrimination in this country, as well as the inclusionary or exclusionary social practices and institutional arrangements that prevail in Canadian society with respect to aging.

There are many different methods of discrimination, including

bulletdirect discrimination - where an older person is denied a benefit or treated unfairly because of his or her age, a physical or mental disability (race, marital status, sexual orientation or other ground of discrimination).
bulletindirect or constructive discrimination - where an older person experiences a negative impact because of a rule or policy that has been imposed by an individual or institution.
bulletsystemic discrimination - where an older persons are affected by subtle and unsubtle barriers imposed through existing structure, policies and/or practices.




bulletSpencer, C. (2005). Discrimination: The law and older adults. In Ann Soden (ed.) Advising the older client. (pp.251-304). LexisNexis Butterworths, Toronto, ON


bulletOntario Human Rights Commission.  Human Rights and Rental Housing. Online:

bulletOntario Human Rights Commission.  Age Discrimination. Online:


bulletCenter for Equality Rights in Accommodation. Online:
bulletHuman Rights in Housing. Online:
bulletHuman Rights in Housing in Canada: An Advocate's Guide (May 2008) (61 pages) English (RTF) (PDF)     Version française (RTF) (PDF)
bulletDisability and the Duty to Accommodate: A Guide for Landlords (pamphlet) (PDF)


bullet Butler, R.N. Declaration of the Rights of Older Persons. Gerontologist, 42(2), 152–153. Online:





Federal and Provincial Human Rights Agencies


bullet Human Rights and Citizenship Commission
bullet Human Rights Panel Decisions

British Columbia:

bulletBC  Human Rights Coalition
bulletHuman Rights Tribunal
bullet Ministry of the Attorney General - Info on Human Rights Protections in BC


bullet Canadian Human Rights Commission
bullet Human Rights Tribunal


bulletHuman Rights Commission
bullet Board of Adjudication - Decisions

New Brunswick:

bullet Human Rights Commission


bulletHuman Rights Commission
bullet Board of Inquiry - Decisions

North West Territories:

bullet Fair Practices Office


Nova Scotia:

bullet Human Rights Commission
bullet Board of Inquiry - Select Decisions in Commission Annual Reports



bulletHuman Rights Commission
bulletHuman Rights Tribunal of Ontario


Prince Edward Island:

bullet Human Rights Commission
bulletBoard of Inquiry and Panel Decisions – see above link, or


bulletHuman Rights Commission
bullet Human Rights Tribunal