Michelle Farb, Student-At-Law
In the matter of A.B. v. Havcare Investments Inc. and Carolyn Goodman, a young woman, 17 years old, referred to as A.B., filed a complaint alleging age discrimination contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code. (Her name is anonymous because at the time of her filing she was a minor).
In January 2011, A.B. applied for a bachelor apartment at 500 Dawes Road. The rent was approximately $680 a month. As a crown ward, the Toronto Children’s Aid Society was assisting her financially and helping her find affordable housing. The Society was ready to pay her rent for her by direct deposit.
A.B. was told by the superintendent that the building had a policy of not renting to anyone under the age of 18. However, in Ontario, 16 and 17-year-olds can sign their own leases.
A.B.’s caseworker advised her to seek advice from the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA). CERA is the only organization in Canada that dedicates itself to promoting human rights in housing and ending housing discrimination.
Three years later, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal found that Carolyn Goodman and her company Havcare Investments Inc., violated the Code and ordered them to pay $10,000 to Thaila-Paige Dixon-Eeet, now 20 years old. In addition, Goodman was ordered to develop and post a human rights policy specific to 500 Dawes Road, and provide human rights training to anyone showing prospective tenants units in the building.
The $10,000 was meant to compensate Dixon-Eeet for her injury to her “dignity, feelings and self-respect.” Goodman denied the allegations and stated that the reason Dixon-Eeet did not get the apartment was because it was not vacant at the time. The Tribunal did not accept this defence and did not find Goodman to be a “credible or reliable witness.” The adjudicator, Alison Renton also found that Goodman tried to influence a witness to deny that Dixon-Eeet’s age was a factor.
The adjudicator further wrote in her ruling:
“From a subjective perspective, the applicant was one of the most vulnerable types of individuals in society and whose odds were pretty much stacked against her… from an objective perspective, being denied housing for a discriminatory reason is serious. Housing is of fundamental importance in our lives. Many experience hardship in finding adequate and affordable living accommodation, and discrimination puts many groups at a higher risk of homelessness.”
Megan Evans Maxwell, A.B.’s lawyer who acted for CERA, stated “this is a significant decision…this young woman had support and was determined to make a difference to other peoples’ lives so she stuck with it.”
As a result of losing the bachelor apartment, A.B. was forced to live with her abusive boyfriend and drop out of school. As a crown ward since age 13, she had been living in group homes and constantly struggled with her studies. After leaving her boyfriend, A.B. became homeless again for a period of time, couch surfing and staying with friends. Currently, she has an apartment in Scarborough and is beginning to work towards her high school equivalency certificate.