New Brunswick’s Human Rights Commission issues new age discrimination guideline

The New Brunswick legislature in Fredericton. Photo: HR Law Canada/Canva
By New Brunswick Human Rights Commission

The New Brunswick Human Rights Commission has issued a new publication, Guideline on Age Discrimination, which outlines the protections provided in the Human Rights Act against age-based discrimination.

The document emphasizes that age-discriminatory practices and policies in employment, housing and services are often overlooked or hidden, and that ageism or age stereotyping in social attitudes and institutional practices lead to discriminatory treatment of vulnerable groups.

The 65-page guideline explains the concept of age-based discrimination, summarizes up-to-date human rights case law, and describes best practices that employers and housing and service providers must adhere to in order to prevent such discrimination. The publication also includes an analysis of mandatory retirement in Canada, including its historical contexts, the safeguards against it in human rights statutes, and judicial approaches to mandatory retirement, including key Supreme Court of Canada decisions.

Commission chair Claire Roussel-Sullivan urged employers and housing and service providers to implement best human rights practices to ensure that people do not face barriers because of their age and that people of all ages are treated with respect, dignity and inclusion. She also reminded employers that mandatory retirement rules violate the age protections of the act, and that mandatory retirement disproportionately affects women, first-generation immigrants, minimum-wage earners and other groups who may enter the labour force later in life.

“Age-discrimination protections granted in the act apply to persons of all ages, so children and young adults are also protected,” said Roussel-Sullivan. “In this context, the publication of the guideline is timely, as it coincides with the Canadian government’s implementation of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee’s recommendations related to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

Roussel-Sullivan noted that the commission is the primary institution mandated to protect and promote human rights in the province, and to uphold the principles of equality, non-discrimination, dignity and inclusion.

“With New Brunswick’s evolving multicultural and multi-ethnic demographic, emergence of new rights-holders, an aging population, and renewed awareness of systemic discrimination, employers and housing and service providers must embrace core human rights values and principles to usher systemic social change in the province,” said Roussel-Sullivan. “By eliminating age-discriminatory practices and attitudes, we will move closer to the vision of a rights-friendly, equal and inclusive society.”

More information about the act and the commission’s publications is available by calling 506-453-2301 or 1-888-471-2233 (toll-free in the province), emailing the commission at [email protected], or visiting the commission’s website.