On the eve of Vancouver's annual Pride festival, government has signalled its intention to introduce legislative amendments to the Human Rights Code this fall.
These amendments, when passed, will re-establish a human rights commissioner for British Columbia and support progress on gender equity and LGBTQ rights.
The proposed amendments to the code will create an independent human rights commissioner who reports to the legislative assembly.
“This new human rights commission will work with people throughout B.C. to promote equality and fairness,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “The 16 years of British Columbia being the only province without a provincial organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights are coming to an end.”
The commissioner will have the key functions of educating British Columbians on human rights as well as examining and addressing issues of discrimination, and will have the mandate to develop educational tools, policies and guidelines to promote human rights and combat widespread patterns of inequality and discrimination in society.
“‘Knowing that B.C. will finally again have a human rights commission to stand up for gender equality and human rights for all of us is a great reason to celebrate during the upcoming Pride festival and parade,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End. “When groups are targeted by hate, we as a government and a society must act. These changes will be a big step forward toward building a more inclusive and welcoming community for all.”
The proposed legislation follows an eight-week public engagement, conducted in fall 2017, that asked British Columbians what they want most from a human rights commission. Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism, led the extensive consultation, culminating in the December 2017 report, A Human Rights Commission for the 21st Century: British Columbians Talk About Human Rights.
Once the legislation has passed, an all-party committee will be formed to unanimously recommend a commissioner who will be subject to approval by the house.
- The Attorney General’s mandate letter includes direction to re-establish a human rights commission in the province.
- British Columbia’s former commission was dismantled in 2002. B.C. is the only province in Canada that does not have such a body.
- The 2017 report set out 25 recommendations for the new human rights commission, the BC Human Rights Tribunal and the Human Rights Clinic, as well as recommendations for priority issues for the incoming commissioner.
To read the report and recommendations, visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/213/2017/12/HRC-Final-Report.pdf