A. Federal and Provincial Legislation
The first step when faced with a human rights issue is to determine whether the provincial legislation, the BC Human Rights Code (HRC), applies or whether the problem falls within federal jurisdiction under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). Section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867 ((UK), 30 & 31 Victoria, c 3 reprinted in RSC 1985, App II, No 5) lists out the bodies that fall under federal jurisdiction. If the complaint is covered by federal legislation, the matter would be handled by the CHRC. The limitation date for Federal jurisdiction is 1 year. If the complaint against the respondent is based on an action they undertook in their capacity as an agent or employee of a body that falls under federal jurisdiction, then that complaint would also be governed by federal legislation. Examples of some industries that are federally regulated and therefore fall within the federal human rights jurisdiction are:
- Banking – but not credit unions.
- Telecommunications (internet, television and radio) – but not call centres.
- Transportation that crosses provincial or international boundaries (airlines, trains, moving companies, couriers).
Section 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867 ((UK), 30 & 31 Victoria, c 3 reprinted in RSC 1985, App II, No 5) on the other hand, lists out the bodies that fall under provincial jurisdiction, which includes property and civil rights in the province as well as generally all matters of a merely local or private nature in the province. In the case that a complaint is covered by the HRC, the matter will be before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (BC HRT). Human rights matters taking place in BC will tend to fall under the provincial legislation. The limitation date shortens to 6 months if under provincial jurisdiction.
In either case, because human rights legislation is considered to be “quasi-constitutional” in nature, the legislation must be given a liberal and purposive interpretation to advance the broad policy implications underlying it. The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has a useful assessment tool that can assist in determining if an entity falls under federal jurisdiction. This tool is not always accurate so if an entity is not found there but you have reason to believe that the entity is federal follow up with further inquiries and analysis.
Human Rights Code, RSBC 1996, c 210, as amended [HRC]
Canadian Human Rights Act, RSC 1985, c H-6, as amended [CHRA]
Civil Rights Protection Act, RSBC 1996, c 49 [CRPA].
B.C. Human Rights Tribunal
||1170 - 605 Robson Street |
Vancouver, B.C., V6B 5J3
||(604) 775-2000 |
TTY: (604) 775-2021
Toll-free in B.C.: 1-888-440-8844
Fax: (604) 775-2020
The B.C. Human Rights Clinic
||300 – 1140 West Pender Street |
Vancouver, B.C., V6E 4G1
||(604) 622-1100 |
Toll-free in Canada: 1-855-685-6222
Fax: (604) 685-7611
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA)
||550 - 1188 West Georgia Street |
Vancouver, B.C. V6E 4A2
||(604) 630-9748 |
Fax: (604) 687-3045
The Canadian Human Rights Commission
||Canada Place, Suite 1645, 9700 Jasper Avenue |
P.O. Box 21, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4C3
||(780) 495-4040 |
Fax: (780) 495-4044
||344 Slater Street, 8th Floor |
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1E1
||(613) 995-1151 |
6-2 TTY: 1-888-643-3304
Fax: (613) 996-9661
- The Commission can independently initiate federal human rights complaints but normally assists in their drafting and investigates complaints lodged by individuals or organizations. If insufficient evidence of discrimination is presented, the Commission can dismiss the complaint. If the Commission finds that the allegations of discrimination warrant mediation or adjudication, it can refer cases to conciliation or to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for hearing.