Planning is underway for the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA), to be hosted this year by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC). The event will be held in Ottawa on June 11-12, 2014, and will be themed â€œAccommodation Works! Toward a More Inclusive Society.â€
In addition to CASHRA, the Mental Health Commission of Canada will support the conference as a partner. The annual CASHRA event is Canada’s leading human rights conference.
Conference participants will include employers, unions, non-governmental organizations, First Nations leaders, and provincial and territorial human rights commissions. Together, they will explore human rights from a provincial, territorial, federal and international point of view, discuss best practices, and learn about new resources.
The CHRC is consulting with employers and policy experts to determine the topics that the conference will cover, including accommodation, mental health in the workplace, dealing with conflicting rights, removing barriers to inclusiveness and finding the right balance in our changing demographics.
Panel discussions, plenary sessions, interactive learning workshops and an examination of updates and trends promise participants an interesting and enriching experience.
Making human rights information more accessible
In September 2013, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, in partnership with the Canadian Association of the Deaf, launched â€œYour Guide to Understanding the Canadian Human Rights Act,â€ a video in American and Québec sign languages, as well as English and French captioning and voice-over. The video provides information on topics including discrimination, harassment, and how to file a discrimination complaint.
The video benefits not only members of the Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing community, but also people with low literacy.
Jim Roots, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of the Deaf, shepherded the project. â€œOur two organizations have both done a lot of work over the decades to explain human rights and discrimination to the Deaf community,â€ Mr. Roots said. â€œHaving a fully accessible step-by-step guide to filing a human rights complaint fills a real need.â€
Resolving discrimination complaints in the community
The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has released a comprehensive guide to help First Nations governments address discrimination complaints in their communities using their own resources.
The Toolkit for Developing Community-based Dispute Resolution Processes in First Nations Communities provides guidance on how to engage the community in the process, how to develop new policies, how to go about financing, and how to train fellow community members in dispute resolution.
The CHRC worked closely with First Nations organizations to ensure that the Toolkit speaks directly to the needs, traditions and values of First Nations communities, such as incorporating the Seven Grandfather Teachings into a dispute resolution process.
The Toolkit is available on www.doyouknowyourrights.ca.
Compliance with the Employment Equity Act benefits all
â€œAll aboard for an inclusive passage!â€
Marine Atlantic runs a ferry service between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Its mission is to provide a safe, reliable, courteous service to all passengers. As a Crown corporation, Marine Atlantic is subject to both the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and the Employment Equity Act (EEA).
The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) performs employment equity audits to ensure that federally regulated organizations are meeting their obligations under the EEA.
Michel de Cesaré, an auditor in the CHRC’s Montreal office, performed an employment equity audit of Marine Atlantic. He noted several areas where Marine Atlantic could improve its efforts towards better representation of the four designated groups: women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities.
Marine Atlantic responded with energy and enthusiasm.
It created a new diversity committee. It recruited new members, including people from unions and the four designated groups. And it provided training to employees on topics such as workplace rights and working with persons with disabilities.
Marine Atlantic did not stop there. It adapted its passenger cabins for people with disabilities. It made its facilities a model of accessibility. This included accommodation for people with hearing impairments, allergy concerns, or those travelling with service animals. Marine Atlantic also established a special rate for people attending to passengers with visual impairments or other disabilities.