Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Introducing Johnny: JFCY's Co-op Student (2012-13)

Hello, my name is Johnny! I'm a grade twelve co-operative education (co-op) student at Justice for Children and Youth (JCFY).  It has been my pleasure getting to know the staff lawyers here at the clinic and the important legal services they provide to our community. I choose to take part in co-operative education at JFCY as I am determined to become a lawyer one day. I also choose JFCY as my placement because of the type of legal services they provide and the community they give their support to. 

It is amazing to see a Legal Clinic offering support to young persons on a wide variety of levels. This makes every learning opportunity here significant and that's what I appreciate the most. I think that JFCY will also be able to provide me a hands on learning experience with the law itself while also giving me a place to strive successfully into my potential career. 

With all that said, I'm not only participating in co-op, I'm also involved in the Public Legal Education Team (PLE) and the Youth Action Committee (YAC) here at JFCY as I think it's important to be as engaged as much as I can be when it comes to law! :) 

I look forward to the rest of my term here at JFCY and hope you all have enjoyed my blog!  

See ya later!! 


Friday, October 26, 2012

Meet Lauren: 2012/2013 PLE Team Leader

My name is Lauren Grossman and I am very excited to be the new PLE Team Leader this year! You might have already seen my name on the blog and wondered who I am, so now I have the chance to tell you a little bit about myself.

I am in my first year of law school at the University of Toronto. I am volunteering as the PLE Team Lead at Justice for Children and Youth through my school’s Pro Bono Students Canada program. PBSC is a student program across Canada that is dedicated to providing legal services at no charge to those in need. There are various opportunities with PBSC for law students to get involved in a number of different legal fields.

I will be at JFCY this year, working with staff lawyer Andrea Luey to lead the PLE Team. I will be writing and/or contributing legal information to the weekly posts on the blog. I will also be helping to run the PLE meetings and create a major project with the PLE team. I am very excited about my position with JFCY!

After 4 years of being away at school, I am very happy to be back living in Toronto! I just graduated from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario with an Honours Bachelor of Science in April, I have a diverse range of educational interests as I have a background in medical sciences from my undergraduate studies and I am currently studying the field of law.

I hope you have been enjoying all the blog has to offer and I look forward to hearing any ideas or comments you may have! If you are interesting in joining our PLE team, or would just like some more information, Check this out! Our team has so much to offer. The Youtube committee has some great ideas for the year and we are in the process of coming up with some fun ideas for a major project!

Be sure to comment below if you have any ideas to offer for future blog posts!

However, keep in mind that we do not share any legal advice over our blog, you should contact JFCY directly by telephone to speak to a lawyer regarding legal advice on any personal issues or situations.

I am looking forward to a great year with JFCY on the PLE team!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

As a Victim of Sexual Assault, What Can You Do?


Melissa is a 15-year-old girl struggling with math at school. Fortunately, her new math teacher is extremely nice, offering her extra help with her homework after class. One day, when she goes to his office to ask him a question regarding the new assignment, he accidentally brushes her chest. Confused, she does nothing until he puts his arm around her waist and tries to kiss her. Leaving in a hurry, she doesn’t say anything to anyone. The next day at school, the teacher tells her to see him after class. This time, he tries to force her to take off her shirt. When she refuses, he tells her that no one will believe her anyways and that he will give her an A+ on the next assignment if she complies. Scared, she rushes home, unsure of what to do.

What can Melissa do? What are her legal rights?

What can Melissa do?

If Melissa wants to, she can immediately report the crime to her parents, another teacher, her principle or directly to the police. Her first step to the justice system will be reporting to the police whose role will be to investigate the facts of the case to see if Melissa’s teacher can be charged. The earlier she reports the crime, the higher the chance the police will be able to find relevant evidence (witnesses for example). If there is enough evidence, the police will produce a report recommending charges. After going to the police, Melissa can ask for special measures so that she does not have to see her teacher while pursuing these charges.

Melissa’s Legal Rights:

The The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is in force around the world, including in Canada. It lists the fundamental human rights of all children, defined as everyone below the age of 18. The Government of Canada protects these legal rights. Melissa’s teacher has infringed her right to be protected from physical, mental or sexual abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Criminal Code Offences Involved:

According to the Criminal Code of Canada Melissa’s teacher could be charged with sexual interference and sexual exploitation.

Section 151(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada describes sexual interference as: every person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years.

Section 153 of the Criminal Code of Canada describes sexual exploitation as: every person commits an offence who is in a position of trust or authority towards a young person, who is a person with whom the young person is in a relationship of dependency or who is in a relationship with a young person that is exploitative of the young person, and who a) for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of the young person; or b) for a sexual purpose, invites, counsels or incites a young person to touch, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, the body of any person, including the body of the person who so invites, counsels or incites and the body of the young person.

Additionally, Melissa’s teacher could be charged with sexual assault. Sexual assault is any form of sexual contact without both parties’ voluntary consent. A sexual assault can also occur when someone threatens to sexually assault another and is able to immediately follow through with that threat. Importantly, sexual assault need not be limited to intercourse. It includes kissing and touching. 

In order for Melissa’s teacher to be found guilty, it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he engaged or intended to engage in a sexual act without Melissa’s consent.


Consent means that a person agreed voluntarily to take part in the act. If one does not voluntarily agree, then there is no consent. In Melissa’s case, the first time she brushed him off and ran out, and the second time directly refused, making it clear that she did not consent to any sexual activity.

In order to determine if consent was given, a court will look at Melissa’s words, conduct, and reasonable steps that she took. In this case, Melissa said NO and immediately left. If Melissa is interested in reporting these crimes, then it is recommended that she immediately tell her parents/guardian who can then assist her with going further to telling the principal of her school and the police.

It is very common for a person in Melissa’s situation to feel a variety of different emotions, such as embarrassment, guilt, anger or shame.

There are a variety of resources available in order to offer advice or support:

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Assaulted Women’s Helpline: (416)863-0511, outside GTA: 1-866-863-0511)

Justice for Children and Youth: (416) 920-1633, 1-866-999-5329 (outside GTA)

Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres:

Boost Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention:

The scenario for this post was written by Cydney Kim a JFCY volunteer on the PLE Team.  Cydney is in grade 12 at University of Toronto Schoolds. The legal info was written by Lauren Grossman, a first-year law student at U of T who is volunteering at JFCY through her law school’s Pro Bono Students Canada program. All info was reviewed by a JFCY staff lawyer.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Underage Drinking in a Public Park

John, 16, was bored on a Sunday so he decided to call his best friend Sam, 17, to hang out. They decided to make their Sunday a little bit more adventurous. They went to a bar and asked for a drink but of course, the bartender asked for ID and they ended up getting kicked out.
Sam decided to go home, take his father’s bottle of alcohol, go to a park and drink it there with John.
While they were drinking, a cop was passing by. The cop noticed something suspicious so he decided to check it out. As the cop was approaching, Sam and John attempted to hide their alcohol because they knew they could get in a lot of trouble.
Officer: “Hello, I was just passing by and saw that you were drinking something covered in a paper bag. May I ask what that was?”
Sam: “Nothing, officer
Officer: “How old are you two?”
Sam: “17”
John: “16”
Officer: “Can I please see the bottle you two were drinking out of?”
John, being extremely scared, blurted out, “Sorry officer, we were drinking alcohol, but we are sorry,” and immediately handed the officer the opened bottle of alcohol.
What legal issues do John and Sam face?
Underage Drinking:
According to ss.30(8) of the Liquor LicenseAct, it is illegal for a person under the age of 19 to have, consume, attempt to purchase or otherwise obtain alcohol. As both John and Sam are under the legal drinking age of 19, they are breaking the law. 

There are very few exceptions to the underage drinking prohibition: Section ss.30 (9) of the Liquor License Act, says that it is legal for a person aged 18 to be in possession of liquor during the course of their employment, where it is authorized. Also, under s. 30(13) it is not illegal for kids under age 19 to be in possession of alcohol IF their parents supply the alcohol to them at home. Clearly these exceptions do not apply to John and Sam in this situation.

The police officer could charge John and Sam under the Liquor License Act and they will be made to appear in Ontario Provincial Offences Court.

Public Drinking:

According to ss.31 (2) of the Liquor License Act, no person shall have or consume liquor in any place other than: a residence, premises with a liquor license or permit, or a private place.  Sam and John could be charged under this section too and be made to attend Provincial Offences Court.

Municipal By-laws:

In addition to breaking Ontario provincial laws, John and Sam may be in violation of bylaws of their municipality. Bylaws are laws created by a city or a town that all residents, regardless of age, must follow.  

For example, chapter 608-8 of the Toronto Municipal Code of Parks says that while in a park, no person shall consume, serve or sell alcoholic beverages unless in designated areas, authorized by permit, and with the approval of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario. None of those exceptions exist in this situation for Sam and John. Additionally, chapter 608-9 of the Toronto Municipal Code says that unless authorized by permit, no person shall use, enter or gather in a park between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.  John and Sam could be given a ticket by a police officer or municipal offences officer for violating these laws.

The scenario for this post was written by Diana Rozo a JFCY volunteer on the PLE Team. The legal info was written by Lauren Grossman, a first-year law student at U of T who is volunteering at JFCY through her law school’s Pro Bono Students Canada program. All info was reviewed by a JFCY staff lawyer.

Internationally Trained Lawyers: Practicing law in Canada

Some info from a JFCY volunteer...

This post was written by JFCY PLE Team volunteer Lina Maria Sanchez.  The views and explanation of the NCA process are those of Lina Maria and not JFCY.

Lina Maria is 26 years old. She is from Colombia, South America and she came to Canada one year ago as a refugee claimant.

Lina Maria is a lawyer in her native country and she also studied two post-graduate degrees (procedural and contracts law). Despite this, she has had difficulty in finding a job in her educational field.

She applied for an equivalent study in an International Credential Institution and she got as a result that her studies in Colombia are equivalent in Canada to a bachelor degree and two post-bachelor degrees, but it is not enough because the law system in Colombia is Civil Law and in Canada the law system is common law. Therefore, many people told to her that if she wants to practice law in Canada, she should go back to law school.

Lina Maria, cannot believe that she studied for eight years and now she can feels like that time spent is a waste.  Consequently, she has been looking more information and she found another option.

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada ( offers an option to practice in the legal profession in Canada, for the individuals with a legal educational credentials and professional experience that was obtained outside of Canada.

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada has a standing committee, called the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA), which assesses the credentials and experience of foreign-trained lawyers and can award a Certificate of Qualification, which is required for most law societies in Canada to admit foreign-trained lawyers to their bar  or law society.

The first stage is an assessment which is done before one may apply for admission to a law society in a Canadian common law jurisdiction. The assessment is based on the academic and professional profile of each applicant.

Once a file is assessed by the NCA, an applicant may be asked to complete one or more exams and/or attend and complete specific law school courses within a prescribed time frame.
Is important to known that lawyers from any country can apply for the assessment, but there are differences between credentials from civil law and common law countries. The lawyer does not have to be a Canadian resident or Citizen.
People with credentials from common law countries and those people can apply directly for the NCA assessment and then, depending on the professional profile they may need to submit and pass some exams or attend and pass some law school courses.

On the other hand, lawyers such as a Lina Maria, who studied in a country with civil law system, need to take some courses in a law school, such a Canadian Constitutional law, criminal law, administrative law, tort law, before applying for the NCA assessment. There are some universities in Ontario that offer specific programs Internationally Trained Lawyer Programs in order to facilitate this process.

After reviewing an application, the NCA will issue an assessment report to the applicant listing the subjects and/or legal education that is required to ensure that the applicant’s legal education and training is equivalent to that provided by an approved law school in Canada. 

If Lina Maria obtains the NCA assessment and wishes to obtain an NCA Certificate of Qualification, she could be required to demonstrate competence in a number of subjects.

Lina Maria may demonstrate competence in one of three ways:
  1. successful completion of NCA examinations;
  2. by registering as a special student in a Canadian common law degree program and successfully completing the assigned subjects as part of your program of studies;
  3. a combination of (1) and (2).
After an applicant has successfully completed the NCA requirements, the applicant must request a Certificate of Qualification. Common Law societies in Canada normally accept the NCA's Certificate of Qualifications for entry to their Bar admission process[1]

In conclusion, although it has not been easy for Lina Maria to practice her profession in Canada and it may take her around three years to complete the requirements (complete law school courses, NCA assessment, NCA exams and/or completing the assigned subjects as part of the program of studies in a law degree and the NCA Certificate of Qualification), she feels the extra effort is worth it and certainly better than wasting the eight years of study that she already completed her native country of Columbia.

Image source:
For more information go to

This post was written by JFCY PLE Team volunteer Lina Maria Sanchez.  The views and explanation of the NCA process are those of Lina Maria and not JFCY.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Volunteer Spotlight: Tracy Chen

My first month of law school
by Tracy Chen

                The first month of law school has been challenging, but also really fun! After being a relatively small program during my undergrad, it has definitely been refreshing to be part of a larger community. At Osgoode Hall Law School, first year law students are put into one of four sections and essentially you will spend most of your time with the people in your section. Orientation week is an overwhelming experience because you get to participate in a variety of activities…yet you also have to attend some classes and do your readings, which can be quite a challenge. One of the great aspects of law school is the opportunity to join a variety of clubs. You will surely find something that will interest you and it is a great way to meet people that are not in your section and some upper years. As I expected, law school does involve a lot of reading. Sometimes these readings can be quite complicated, but thankfully, all my professors thus far have been excellent in providing clarifications. Overall, I am a bit overwhelmed, but enjoying the experience.

This post was written by PLE Team volunteer Tracy Chen.  Tracy has been involved as a volunteer with JFCY for many years, assisting with blog writing and filming our YouTube videos.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Selling drugs at school

Alexa is 17 years old and she lives with her mother as well as her little brother who is 3 years old. Her mother has been struggling financially ever since her husband left her and her two kids. Alexa is stressed out about her current living situation; she has tried to find a job to help out her mother with bill payments.  Unfortunately, she has not been able to keep a job due to some issues she is having with depression and anxiety.

Alexa has turned to other means of making money. Alexa began hanging out with a new crowd of friends and these friends have had some negative influences on her. At their suggestion, Alexa started dealing and selling around her neighborhood, as well as at school. Her ‘new friends’ have convinced her that selling drugs is a quicker and easier way for her to make money for her family.

If Alexa is selling drugs at school, what kind of trouble could she get into with school?

The Law: School Suspensions and Expulsions

If Alexa is dealing and selling drugs at school, she will face a mandatory suspension. According to a provincial law called the Education Act, selling drugs at school is such an incident where Alexa’s principal shall suspend her. Suspension from school can be anywhere from one school day to 20 school days. During this time, Alexa will not be able to attend class or participate in any school-related activities, such as field trips or sports games. If her suspension is for five days or more, she must attend a suspended students program.  If suspension occurs, her principal will follow up with a written notice of suspension stating why she is being and for how long the suspension will last, information about the right to appeal and whether they are considering expulsion.

Importantly,her principal may also have to notify the police about Alexa’s behavior.

Expulsion is a possible and more serious repercussion of selling drugs at school. If Alexa is suspended for 20 days, then her principal must consider whether to seek an expulsion.  In doing this, he or she will conduct an investigation for expulsion following the mandatory suspension. Until investigation, Alexa will be suspended for 20 days and she will be referred to a suspended students program which she will have to attend during investigation. Following the investigation if the Principal is recommending an expulsion then an expulsion hearing will occur where a committee of school board trustees will make the final decision about whether or not to expel her. At the expulsion hearing, the committee will hear from both the principal and the student, as well as any witnesses that either the principal or the student call.  The principal will likely have a lawyer and the student also has the right to have a lawyer present at the hearing.

The school board is required to take into account any special circumstances Alexa may have when determining whether she should be expelled, such as her disciplinary history at school, her academic and attendance record and whether she has a disability that contributed to the misconduct.

Expulsion means that Alexa can not attend school or any school-related activities.

There are two types of expulsions: She may be expelled only from the school she was attending or she may be expelled from all schools in her school board district. If she is expelled from her school only then she will be placed at a different school.  If she is expelled from all schools in the board then she will be assigned to an expelled students program, which she must complete before returning to a different school.

This expulsion will be recorded in Alexa’s Ontario Student Record and other schools will have access to this information. Some consequences of an expulsion include falling behind in classes, not earning her expected credits, being viewed differently by her teachers and peers and not graduate on time with her classmates. 

For more information on school suspensions, see:

For more information on school expulsions, see:

If you are a young person attending a publicly-funded school in Ontario and you are facing a suspension or expulsion, you can call JFCY at 416.920.1633 or 1.866.999.5329 to speak with a lawyer.

The scenario for this post was written by Deqa Abdi, a JFCY volunteer on the PLE Team.  The legal info was written by Lauren Grossman, a first-year law student at U of T who is volunteering at JFCY through her law school’s Pro Bono Students Canada program. All info was reviewed by a JFCY staff lawyer.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

JFCY Volunteer Spotlight: Rachel Kattapuram

This post was written by Rachel Kattapruam, a JFCY legal intern and volunteer on the PLE Team.  Rachel discusses her first month of law school...

Image from:

Noting the humid air and heavy overcast as I stepped out of my apartment building, I had only one thought: I’m going to have a seriously bad hair day on my first day of law school. In all seriousness though, I had a lot of thoughts running though my mind as I walked towards Flavelle House to begin my orientation into the UofT Faculty of Law, the legal profession, and the next phase of my life.

It was both extremely exciting and extremely intimidating to meet the 190 students with whom I would be spending the next three years. All brilliant, articulate, and from a variety of interesting educational and professional backgrounds, I felt incredibly privileged to stand among them. These are the people who I’m sure will help shape my thoughts, opinions, and lessons learned, academic and otherwise, in my time at law school. It was not only the students, however, that awed me on that first day. Admittedly, I think I’ve watched Legally Blonde a few times too many, but I was under the impression that all law professors are stern, no nonsense types who would no sooner crack a smile then offer you the answers to the exam. I was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of Dean Moran’s speech to our class, speaking openly and earnestly about her career in law and her high hopes that we should all succeed at law school. The other professors that spoke too impressed upon on us not only an academic and career oriented perspective of the law, but also they ways in which the things they had done over the course of their legal careers had shaped their lives.

Of course, it hasn’t been all inspiring speeches and orientation festivities. The long and short of it is, law school is a lot of work. I mean, a LOT of work. I can still feel the panic that flooded my lungs when a professor announced our first research assignment. But for some reason, I love it. Maybe it’s the sense of community in taking all of my classes with all of the same people. Maybe it’s the high school throwback to being in having a locker again! Maybe it’s the inspiring professors and amazing opportunities that UofT has so far provided. Maybe, its as a second year I met during orientation day put it, “First year is a lot like being on a sinking ship….with a lot of really great people….and you never sink.” 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Youth records and crossing the border


Justin is 18 and a Canadian citizen.  Four years ago, he got into a fight at school and was charged with assault.  Justin pled guilty and was sentenced to a conditional discharge.  Justin completed all requirements of the sentence.  Since then, he has put the incident behind him, and hasn’t had any other charges or interactions with the police.  

Justin’s friends are going to Buffalo, New York next weekend to see a concert, and he really wants to go with them.  He is wondering if his old charge of assault will prevent him from being admitted across the border into the USA.

The U.S. border crossing in Blaine, Wash., the day before the new rule went into effect. (AP photo)
Photo: Associated Press,

Legal Answer:

Youth records relating to a conditional discharge sentence for a youth charge are sealed three years after the finding of guilt, as long as that youth has not re-offended.

Justin’s youth record is sealed, since more than 3 years have passed since he was found guilty and sentenced.  This means that this info would not show up in a criminal records  check or in the local police files.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t run into problems at the border.

There is no absolute right for a foreign national to enter another country.  The USA has the discretion to refuse entry to anyone, for any reason.

Generally, other countries (such as the USA) are not given access by Canada to information about Canadian youth records.  By contrast, the USA has access to criminal records information for adults through the Canadian Police Information Centre (”CPIC”) database.

This means that if a USA border official runs Justin’s name through the CPIC database, then it will NOT result in a hit and thus no information about Justin’s past youth record will be available to the border official.

However, in some cases, other countries do find out about youth records, especially while they are open. 

One way that they find this information out is if they ask a young person who is crossing the border about their record and the young person tells them about it.  Once the USA obtains information about anyone’s record they have the right to keep that information indefinitely.

If the United States did obtain information about Justin’s record in the past, they can decide to keep it on file after his record is sealed in Canada.   Information about his record can then can be used as grounds to keep him from crossing the border in the future. 

When Justin heads to Buffalo this time, if he is asked about whether he has a youth record or current charges, he can truthfully say “no”, since he completed his sentence AND his youth record has been sealed.  (Note though, that if  Justin’s record had not yet been sealed, then answering “no” would not be truthful.)

If the US already this info about his record on file (say, for example, that he told them two years ago when he crossed the border), it is—unfortunately—impossible to know if Justin will be denied entry. It will likely be up to the individual border guard at the Buffalo crossing to decide whether or not Justin can cross.

For people who have been refused entry to the USA, there are some applications that can be made to the USA Department of Homeland Security to seek a waiver or to seek a correction of inaccurate information that has led to a person not being allowed into the country.

If you live in Ontario and have questions about how your youth record will affect your ability to travel, or if you have been refused entry to the USA because of your youth record, then please contact JFCY to speak to a lawyer about your specific legal situation.

For more information:

USA Department of Homeland Security Traveller Redress Program”

Canadian Department of Justice: Information About Youth Records,

JFCY info on youth records:

This post was written by JFCY volunteer Krista Nerland, with info from a JFCY staff lawyer.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

I have a youth record. What happens to it when I turn 18?

It depends.
Your youth record does NOT automatically disappear when you turn 18. Instead, the law sets out a period in which the record is open and can be accessed by people that are authorized by the law, like the Crown Attorney, before it is sealed. The relevant law is called the Youth Criminal Justice Act

How long your record will lasts will depend on:
  • 1.      The seriousness of the crime you committed
  • 2.      The sentence you were given, AND
  • 3.      Whether you commit another crime while you still have an open youth record for a previous crime.

If you get an Absolute Discharge, then your record for this offence will be open for one year after being found guilty of the offence.  If you receive a conditional discharge, then your record for this offence will be open for three years after being found guilty.  If you get EJS (extrajudicial sanctions) then this will be on your record for two years from the date you agree to do EJS.

For more serious sentences (like probation and custody), the length of time your record is open depends on the seriousness of the crime. For instance, if you were found guilty of a summary conviction offence, which is a lower level offence, then your record will be open for three years after you complete your sentence.  But if you are found guilty of a more serious offence, known as an indictable offence, your record will be open five years after your sentence is completed.  

And if you committed a really serious offence, like murder, manslaugher, attempted murder or aggravated sexual assault, your record may be open indefinitely.  

If you have an open youth record and then are found guilty of a new crime while charged as a youth, then the time period starts fresh: this means that the original offences will be open until the retention period for the new offences is complete.

Finally, if you have a youth record that is still open when you turn 18, and you commit another offence before it is sealed, your youth record will become part of your permanent adult record.

For more on youth records, go to

To talk to a lawyer about your own record and questions you have about when it will be destroyed, please call JFCY at 1.866.999.5329 if you are in Ontario.

This post was written by JFCY volunteer Krista Nerland, a law student at UofT.  Reviewed by JFCY.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's not fair: Why are children and youth not protected from age-based discrimination in Ontario? And what can we do?

This blog post is a continuation from our post on September 21, 2012.
Comic made by PLE Team volunteer Shawn Malik

What can kids and teens do if they experience age-based discrimination in Ontario?
Unfortunately, not much...unless they up for a Charter challenge to the Ontario Human Rights Code.
As the law in Ontario currently stands, children and youth under age 18 are not protected from age-based discrimination. This is because definition of “age” at s. 10(1) in the Ontario Human Rights Code is “an age that is 18 years or more”. (*There is a small exception for 16 and 17 year-olds in the context of rental housing.)
The law means that people under age 18 cannot succeed in making an application under the Ontario Human Rights Code when they have experienced discrimination based on their age.
There are various scenarios when young people experience age discrimination in Canadian society. 
Here are a few examples:
q       Gyms and fitness facilities in condos, apartments and hotels that refuse entry to people under age 16.
q       Retail stores that only allow in two youth at one time.
q       Security guards and police officers who follow around youth, or otherwise unfairly monitor them, solely because of their age.
While young people are not protected from age-based discrimination by the Human Rights Code, the story does not end there.  This is because the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects everyone, regardless of how young, from age-based discrimination that is created by our laws or government actors.  This means that laws made by the Federal, Provincial or Municipal government must NOT discriminate based on age. 
JFCY holds the opinion that the Ontario Human Rights Code violates the Charter because its definition of age discriminates against people under the age of 18. The definition of age in the Ontario Human Rights Code creates a clear distinction between those under age 18 and those over age 18, such that only those over age 18 are protected from age-based discrimination under the Code. The Code stereotypes, excludes, and devalues people under age 18. It assumes that people under age 18 are either not ever subject to, or not worthy of protection from age-based discrimination. Or, it places protection of children from other harms above protecting them from age-based discrimination, but is not responsive to individual circumstances where that may not be in a child’s best interest.
JFCY agrees that for reasons of safety and well-being, there are some distinctions that should be made between adults and children.  For example, it is reasonable for an employer to refuse to hire a seven-year old for a job, and for teens to be made to wait until a certain age to get their drivers license. However, the magic age should not be 18 for age-based protection from discrimination.  The definition of age in the Ontario Human Rights Code is not based on informed generalizations about children’s capacities, circumstances and needs. The definition of age in the Code is not effective in meeting the actual needs of claimants under age 18 and achieving the objective of the legislation, which is to prevent discrimination in society.

 JFCY supports some specific age-based protections to be carved into the Ontario Human Rights Code that seek to reasonably protect children in rationally necessary areas of life, as well as acknowledge that some types of discrimination should not be actionable.  Otherwise, all other age-based discrimination must be assessed on the test of whether there is a “bona fide and reasonable justification” (ie a good, sensible reason to discriminate).

There have been some Human Rights Tribunal cases dealing with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Code in this context, but these cases are not “binding”.  There is a need for more cases to be brought forward on this issue in order to push for a change to this law. We see a specific need for cases that deal with age-based discrimination faced by youth and teens under age 18.  JFCY is up for this challenge and welcomes the opportunity to assist young people who believe they have experienced age-based discrimination in Ontario.
If you are under age 18 and live in Ontario and believe you have experienced age-based discrimination then please contact Justice for Children and Youth to discuss your legal rights and options.
To read a case that successfully challenged the definition of age in the Ontario Human Rights Code, click here.
This post was written by a JFCY staff lawyer.