Why is there a gap in Human Rights in BC?
If someone is able to make a complaint, at some effort and sometimes expense, they can apply at the BC Human Rights Tribunal. But it is frustrating when we know there is an issue, but there is no one willing or able to make that complaint, and the issue remains unaddressed and unresolved.
Every day is a school day, and a during a class at Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness the Peer Housing Supporters pointed out that this is partly because here in BC, unlike every other Province and all but one Territory in Canada, we don’t have a Human Rights Commission. For fifteen years, since the Province scrapped the Commission, we have only had a Tribunal. Tribunals are reactive; they hear complaints and make decisions. Commissions act in a proactive way; conducting research and enforcing human rights legislation. They have an educational role as well. In other Provinces and Territories have done so much important work:
- Ontario has looked at racial profiling by police.
- Manitoba looked at sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Alberta has workshops for organizations on: creating a respectful and inclusive workplace, human rights in the workplace, and discrimination, harassment and bullying in the workplace. Amongst others.
- Yukon has resources including subjects like what to do if you are harassed.
BC engaged with stakeholders and the result was a report with recommendations to the Attorney General of BC. Education, prevention and advocacy are recommended; moving from a reactive to a proactive position. Systemic discrimination, such as that experienced by Aboriginal people, is a challenge to the old model and will hopefully be addressed with a Commission.
This should mean that we no longer rely on people who are having to deal with day-to-day discrimination to spend time, energy and money complaining. We should see more proactive human rights advocacy and education. At Ready to Rent BC, we know that discrimination is a significant barrier to housing and successful tenancies. Youth, Aboriginal people, newcomers, single parents and others report a lack of offers of housing and differences in how tenants are treated. We look forward to seeing how the new Commission deals with discrimination in housing.
- Kay Martin
- Gwyneth Dustan
- Ty McLaughlin
- Lisa Crossman
- Ginette St. Amant
Peer Supporters at the GVCEH.