Car rental companies may need to justify age restrictions under proposed human rights legislation

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The proposed changes to Alberta’s human rights code are aimed at preventing age discrimination – and the move could cause consumers to challenge restrictions on certain activities, like renting a car.

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“You can always defend an age distinction,” Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said Thursday, adding that companies would have to make a legal argument if their policies were challenged.

“If they are able to justify it, that’s fine; otherwise it would be a discriminatory rule, ”she said.

Currently in Alberta, car rental companies only rent to drivers over the age of 21. Enterprise, for example, charges drivers ages 21 to 24 a “young renter fee,” according to the company’s website. It costs about $ 20 per day.

Ganley said new legislation introduced Wednesday – the Alberta Human Rights Amendment Act, 2017 – brings the province into line with most other Canadian jurisdictions.

“(The rental companies) manage to operate there, so it would probably be a similar principle,” she said.

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Bill 23 stems from an order of the Court of Queen’s Bench of January 6, 2017, which gave the government one year to add age as a prohibited ground of discrimination in specific articles of the Human Rights Code. anybody. The proposed changes relate to two sections focusing on rental, as well as goods, services, accommodation and facilities.

But article 11 of the code explains that the act can be violated if it is considered “reasonable and justifiable in the circumstances”.

A spokesperson for Associated Canadian Car Rental Operators, which advocates for the Canadian car and truck rental industry, said he was reviewing the legislation.

“Our industry will adapt to any environment and we are here to serve our customers,” said Craig Hirota, vice president of government relations and member services on Thursday.

Bruce Cran, spokesperson for the Consumers’ Association of Canada, said he was taking a “wait-and-see approach” to the new rules.

“It’s a good thing for consumers,” he said. “As far as we can see, this should eliminate age discrimination for just about everything. And that would include types of insurance, car rentals, and whatever comes along. “

If passed, the bill would come into force on January 1. It also bans buildings reserved for adults and includes specific exemptions, such as housing reserved for the elderly.

cclancy@postmedia.com

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Pamela W. Robbins

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