on the Human Rights Clinic
of the Structures
Canada, our domestic human rights laws operate in two jurisdictions:
the federal and the provincial. At the federal level, the Canadian
Human Rights Act is administered and enforced by the Canadian
Human Rights Commission and Tribunal, and at the provincial level,
the British Columbia Human Rights Code is administered
by the BC Human Rights Tribunal. Both pieces of legislation are
similar in the protections they provide although slight variations
do exist. Neither the federal nor the provincial legislation trumps
or supercedes the other. Rather, the appropriate legislation is
determined according to which level of government regulates a specific
two laws have separate administrative structures that allow individuals
to exercise their rights by filing complaints of discrimination.
of areas regulated by the federal government and governed by the
Canadian Human Rights Act would include employment and
- the federal government and all its ministries;
- all arms of the federal government such as
the R.C.M.P. the Employment Insurance Commission or Canada Post;
- telecommunications, which are regulated by
the CRTC, all inter-provincial transportation such as Air Canada
and Via Rail;
- chartered banks, but not credit unions; and
- all unions attached to any of the above.
Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
are the two agencies that enforce the federal Act. To initiate
a complaint of discrimination, contact the Canadian Human Rights
the Canadian Human Rights Commission will help you identify whether
they have the statutory ability to deal with your issue. If so,
they will provide you with options to resolve your complaint, investigate
your complaint and, if warranted, refer your complaint to the Canadian
Human Rights Tribunal for a public hearing and a decision.
Canadian Human Rights Commission has other areas of responsibility
such as providing public education, monitoring and conducting research
related to discrimination, and enforcing the Employment Equity
Act, which applies to federal employers with over 100 employees.
See the Commission's
website for further information.
System in British Columbia
provincial legislation, the BC Human Rights Code, applies
to employers, service providers and all provincially regulated businesses
and agencies. Our provincial legislation also applies to the purchase
of property and rental accommodations. Examples of provincially
regulated areas include:
- all provincial, local and municipal government
departments, services and policies;
- schools and universities;
- hospitals and medical clinics;
- all private businesses and services such as
stores, restaurants, and movie theatres;
- credit unions;
- non-profit organizations and some of the services they provide;
- rental accommodations including hotels and rental property;
- the purchase of either residential or commercial property.
BC Human Rights Tribunal is the sole agency that enforces the provincial
Code. This means that the Tribunal accepts, mediates, holds
public hearings, and decides on complaints of discrimination.
you initiate your complaint of discrimination with the BC Human
Rights Tribunal. If your issue is something they have the statutory
ability to deal with, the Tribunal will provide you with various
options to settle your claim prior to a full hearing. When early
settlement doesn't work, the Tribunal holds public hearings and
renders decisions on claims of discrimination.
Tribunal’s process is similar to that of a court and full
procedures are set out in its Rules of Practice and Procedure. The
Tribunal also has a number of user-friendly guides and information
sheets available to assist individuals through the process. See
website for full information.
that the provincial process is more court-like in nature, individuals
have access to a publicly funded human rights clinic that provides
information, assistance, advice and representation to those who
need assistance. >>> Learn more about the clinic
British Columbia, the statutory responsibility for education is
held by the Minister responsible for Human Rights, the Attorney
General of BC. This responsibility is jointly carried out by the
Ministry, by the Tribunal, and by third party delivery agents under
the auspices of the human rights clinic.
Ministry of the Attorney General of BC also has the statutory power
to initiate and conduct research related to discrimination and the
Tribunal is responsible for filing an annual report with the legislature.
See the Ministry
of the Attorney General’s website for more information.
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