This Report is intended to be a broad examination of all issues that may have an impact on the dignity and worth of older adults and that may affect the enjoyment of equal rights and opportunities.
The Commission’s mandate is set out in the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”), the Ontario law that prohibits discrimination and harassment in five social areas: (1) employment, (2) housing, (3) goods, services and facilities, (4) contracts and (5) membership in trade, professional and vocational associations. The Preamble to the Code eloquently sets out its aim:
WHEREAS recognition of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world and is in accord with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as proclaimed by the United Nations;
AND WHEREAS it is public policy in Ontario to recognize the dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination that is contrary to law, and having as its aim the creation of a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person so that each person feels a part of the community and able to contribute fully to the development and well-being of the community and the Province...
The Commission fulfills its mandate and strives to achieve the goals set out in the Preamble to the Code in two main ways: through receipt and enforcement of human rights complaints and by forwarding human rights policy and conducting human rights education. With respect to the policy and education function, the Commission is specifically empowered to:
- forward human rights policy;
- promote an understanding, acceptance of and compliance with the Code;
- provide public information, education and research aimed at eliminating discrimination;
- examine and review statutes, regulations, programs and policies and make recommendations on any provision, programs or policy that may be inconsistent with the Code;
- initiate investigations into problems and encourage and co-ordinate plans, programs and activities to reduce or prevent such problems; and
- encourage public and private organizations to undertake programs to alleviate discrimination (Section 29 of the Code).
It is pursuant to these powers that the Commission has undertaken this review.
This Report is intended to be a broad examination of issues that have an impact on the dignity and worth of older adults and that may affect the enjoyment of equal rights and opportunities.
The Report begins by identifying the need to consider dignity, independence, participation, fairness and security as core values in any consideration of issues related to older persons. In addition, it introduces the concept of ageism and its central role in age-based discrimination. The Report provides an overview of the particular disadvantage experienced by certain groups of older persons, based on the intersection of age with other aspects of their identity. Finally, the Report describes in depth what the Commission heard during its consultations with respect to employment, housing, health care, institutions and services, elder abuse and neglect and elder care.
This document will form the basis for future policy work by the Commission. The Commission’s policy statements provide information about the Commission’s interpretation of specific provisions of the Code. They are important because the public has the right to expect that the Commission will deal with cases in a way that is consistent with its published policies. They also set standards for how individuals, employers, service providers and policy makers should act to ensure equality for all Ontarians.
While the Commission intends to act swiftly on the commitments in this Report to do further work to promote the rights of older Ontarians, it is clear that action by the Commission is not enough. A concerted effort by all levels of government, the private sector, the non-profit sector and particularly those who work directly with older adults is needed. Policy and law-makers across the province must take steps to ensure equality for older Ontarians.
Accordingly, the Report makes recommendations for what others can do to address the practices and attitudes that limit the ability of older persons to participate fully in society. The submissions provided the Commission with a great number of recommendations for the manner in which age discrimination can be addressed. The Recommendations for Government & Community Action presented in each section of this Report are based on the suggestions received that particularly address the human rights issues inherent in age discrimination. They are intended to provide government and community partners throughout the province with suggested first steps through which they can work to combat age discrimination and its effects.
Additionally, each section outlines Commission Commitments which are steps that the Commission will take to combat age discrimination. The Commission looks forward to working with government, all sectors and community partners to encourage the implementation of the recommendations in this document.
A concerted effort by all levels of government, the private sector, the non-profit sector and particularly those who work directly with older adults is needed. Policy and law-makers across the province must take steps to ensure equality for older Ontarians.