Governing Legislation and Resources for Human Rights (6:II)

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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.

A. Legislation[edit]

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. Resources[edit]

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal[edit]

Online Website
Address 1170 - 605 Robson Street
Vancouver, B.C., V6B 5J3
Phone (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[edit]

Online Website
Address 300 – 1140 West Pender Street
Vancouver, B.C., V6E 4G1
Phone (604) 622-1100
Toll-free in Canada: 1-855-685-6222
Fax: (604) 685-7611

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA)[edit]

Online Website
Address 550 - 1188 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6E 4A2
Phone (604) 630-9748
Fax: (604) 687-3045

The Canadian Human Rights Commission[edit]

Online Website

Western Region[edit]

Address Canada Place, Suite 1645, 9700 Jasper Avenue
P.O. Box 21, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4C3
Phone (780) 495-4040
Toll-Free: 1-888-214-1090
TTY: 1-888-643-3304
Fax: (780) 495-4044

National Office[edit]

Address 344 Slater Street, 8th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1E1
Phone (613) 995-1151
Toll-free: 1-888-214-1090
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.