Province tables human rights commission legislation

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Government has introduced legislative amendments to the Human Rights Code that will re-establish a human rights commission for B.C. to promote and protect human rights for all British Columbians.

“As we see what’s happening around the globe, it has never been more important that governments do all they can to end discrimination and stand up for human rights,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. By re-establishing a human rights commission, we are creating a more inclusive and just society for all British Columbians.”

B.C.’s former commission was dismantled in 2002. It is currently the only province in Canada that does not have such a body. The proposed Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2018 will create an independent human rights commissioner who reports to the legislative assembly. The commissioner will have the key functions of educating British Columbians on human rights, as well as examining and addressing issues of discrimination. The commissioner 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.

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 of Sport and Multiculturalism, led the consultation, culminating in the December 2017 report, A Human Rights Commission for the 21st Century: British Columbians Talk About Human Rights.

“This piece of legislation is a victory for the thousands of British Columbians who have fought for years to bring this about,” Kahlon said. “As we increasingly become a more diverse society, it is critical we have a commission that will proactively and passionately uphold the rights of all British Columbians.”

Once the legislation has passed, an all-party committee will be formed to unanimously recommend a commissioner who will then be subject to approval by the legislative assembly.

Quick Facts:

* 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

* The Attorney General’s mandate letter includes direction to re-establish a human rights commission in the province.

* 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.