EDMONTON, AB–(July 30, 2017) The Alberta Human Rights Act currently does not include ‘age’ as a protected ground when it comes to tenancy, making it possible for rental companies, landlords, and condo boards to refuse housing to people with children.
According to CFHCA founding member Chelsey Jersak, the ability to refuse housing to children and their parents is outdated and discriminatory. It also has a direct negative impact on sustainable growth in core urban neighbourhoods.
Alberta is currently the only province in Canada that continues to allow management bodies total leeway to refuse housing to people on the basis of their age.
“There is nothing revolutionary about what the CFHCA is asking the government to do—to protect the rights of children in housing,” says Jersak, pointing out that Alberta has endorsed the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child since 1999. “Everything we are asking for is aligned with values and practices already in place in the rest of the country, values we believe Albertans share across party lines.”
In January 2017, the Government of Alberta agreed to a Court Order to add age as a protected ground in tenancy in the Alberta Human Rights Act. In January 2018, age (currently defined in the Alberta Human Rights Act as 18+) will be added as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the Act, with certain exemptions.
On July 20, 2017, the Government of Alberta released a Discussion Guide to help determine what the exemptions will be. Submissions to the government are due by the end of August 2017.
The CFHCA is pleased that the Government of Alberta is soliciting input and undertaking a thorough review before undertaking the necessary changes to the Alberta Human Rights Act.
The CFHCA will be submitting a formal response to the Government of Alberta that will include the following key points:
1) The Act should include provisions that explicitly provide protection for children and their caregivers in condominium and rental housing.
2) The Act should include exemptions for supportive living facilities such as for persons with developmental disabilities and seniors.
The CFHCA is advocating for an exemption for supportive housing rather than a black and white age exemption (such as 65+). “We believe that an exemption for supportive housing is a more nuanced approach to policy making,” says Jersak. “Supportive housing includes many housing types where care is provided to a certain demographic group, including seniors. But supportive housing could also include housing that provides physical or mental health support for people of all ages.”
All media inquiries please contact:
Heather MacKenzie, CFHCA Government Relations Consultant
780-263-2552 (call or text to arrange an interview)
High rent and a critical shortage of rental units in Calgary make it impossible for working women living in poverty to afford many rental units. Age restricted units are yet another barrier to women with children finding safe communities in which to raise their families.
– The Women’s Centre of Calgary
Good housing is crucial to healthy child development. Communities demonstrate they care about children and families by ensuring fair access to this basic need.
– Edmonton Early Years Coalitions Council of Chairs
“Lai-Sing Louie, regional economist for the prairies with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), said … the CMHC will not insure a mortgage on a building that explicitly restricts certain ages in its bylaws. “CMHC tries to represent the government of Canada and discrimination is something that we tend not to support,” he said.