An inclusive society where everyone is valued and respected.
My Canada includes everyone.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) protects the core principle of equal opportunity and promotes a vision of an inclusive society free from discrimination by:
- promoting human rights through research and policy development;
- protecting human rights through a fair and effective complaints process; and
- representing the public interest to advance human rights for all Canadians.
The CHRC administers the Canadian Human Rights Act and ensures compliance with the Employment Equity Act.
The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the grounds of national or ethnic origin, colour, race, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability, and conviction for which a pardon has been granted or a record suspended.
The Employment Equity Act promotes equity in the workplace of the four designated groups: women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities.
The Secretary General guides the daily operations of employees. The CHRC’s operating budget is $22.5 million (2013-2014 fiscal year).
A full-time Chief Commissioner acts as the Chief Executive Officer and leads the CHRC. Three part-time Commissioners support the Chief Commissioner.
The CHRC’s three part-time Commissioners as of December 31st, 2013. From left to right: Roch A. Fournier, Ad. E., Sandi Bell, and Peter McCreath.
Making it easier to file a human rights complaint
This visual graphic shows a breakdown of the number of times the CHRC’s online complaint assessment tool was used during its first year (2013).
The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has redesigned its website to better serve Canadians and connect them to the information they want and need.
At the heart of the redesign is a self-assessment tool that enables Canadians to find out for themselves if they can file a discrimination complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Before this tool was introduced, this first step could sometimes take several weeks. Now, in less than 30 minutes most visitors can determine if their complaint raises human rights issues as defined by the Canadian Human Rights Act, and if they should be filing a complaint with the Commission or with a different organization. Individuals are then able to download a complaint form at the end of the process. Since its launch in April, the tool has been used more than 9,300 times.
People can now also access information on discrimination and how to file a complaint about human rights through an online video in sign language, voice-over and closed captioning.
A more efficient complaints process
The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) receives and reviews thousands of discrimination complaints. All complaints are subject to triage.
In addition, the CHRC now gives priority to complaints that are systemicâ€”that involve practices or actions likely to affect many people. Complaints are also given priority when they are time-sensitive or involve someone in an increasingly vulnerable situation.
The first step in the triage process is to determine whether the complaint falls under the jurisdiction of the CHRC. The CHRC reviews all new and existing complaints and determines their validity under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Some complaints are referred to more appropriate organizations or processes, such as provincial human rights commissions or complaint processes established by collective agreements. Most complaints that fall within the CHRC’s jurisdiction are referred to mediation.
Should mediation fail to resolve the complaint, the CHRC launches an investigation. We conduct interviews and gather other evidence. Based on an analysis of this evidence, an investigator will recommend one of three options. The CHRC can dismiss the complaint. The CHRC can send the complaint to conciliationâ€”a mandatory, collaborative, time-limited process. Or the CHRC can refer the complaint directly to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, where the CHRC can participate in litigation of the case.
How Mediation works
Mediation is an informal process that the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) uses to resolve a large number of the complaints it receives. In 2013, the CHRC resolved over 180 discrimination complaints through mediation.
The CHRC’s primary goal is to have a positive impact on the larger public interest. Mediated settlements often inspire changes to policies and practices that prevent future complaints. Mediation also helps to conserve the resources needed to investigate and litigate more complex complaints.
The mediation process is straightforward. Here’s how it works.
A discrimination complaint is referred to one of the CHRC’s professional mediators, located in major cities across Canada.
The mediator contacts the parties, encourages them to enter into the process and lays out the ground rules. The rules are that any information provided cannot be used in subsequent investigations or court cases, and all parties retain the right to walk away at any time. Neither party needs legal counsel. The process is confidential and risk-free.
The mediator works directly with both the complainant and the respondent to identify potential solutions. The mediator guides the process, explains relevant laws and legal precedents, and reviews any offer to settle. Depending on the nature of the complaint and how the parties choose to proceed, mediation can involve a few telephone calls, or a series of face-to-face meetings. In most cases, mediation produces a resolution within two or three months.
Most mediated settlements result in the respondent compensating the complainant financially and adjusting policies, practices or procedures. The respondent might also be required to raise awareness of these changes.
If a solution can’t be reached, the CHRC will go to the next step, which is to investigate the complaint.
How Litigation works
Litigation is another way that the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) promotes and protects human rights in Canada.
The CHRC often intervenes in discrimination cases that go before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, the Federal Court, or the Supreme Court of Canada. The role of CHRC lawyers is to represent the public interest.
The litigation team focuses on discrimination cases that have far reaching implications for the Canadian public. For example, the case might have the potential to create positive change for an entire section of Canadian society. Or it might have the potential to clarify or redefine human rights law in Canada.
One person’s discrimination case can have a ripple effect on the lives of many other people. An employer can look to a court ruling for clarity or guidance when facing a similar situation. Similarly, a person who thinks they are experiencing discrimination can point to a court ruling as a precedent and use it to support their request for accommodation.