2021-22 Operating context

Operating context

Human rights in a pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is amplifying inequality, expanding the circle of vulnerability and disproportionately affecting marginalized groups in Canada. It has forced pre-existing issues of inequality to the surface, particularly the intersections of the rights to health, housing, employment.

While it is premature to understand the full impact of the pandemic on the volume of complaints accepted by the Commission, it does appear that the number of complaints accepted has slightly decreased. The Commission anticipates however that once the pandemic situation improves, the caseloads will return to previous levels and might even increase due to the inequality created by the pandemic.

In addition, the Commission anticipates that COVID-19 will continue to add a layer of complexity in providing internal services as the organization continues to work remotely.

New mandates

The Commission’s responsibilities under the Accessible Canada Act, the Pay Equity Act, and the National Housing Strategy Act will continue to affect the activities of Internal Services — mainly human resources; procurement; accommodations; information management and technology; communications; legal and financial management services.

In addition, with access to housing playing a central role in addressing the unprecedented COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, the Federal Housing Advocate, once appointed, will need to provide communities with a much-needed mechanism to identify systemic barriers and seek remedies for responsive housing programs and policy innovation.

Pressing human rights issues

Complex and pressing human rights issues such as hate and intolerance, economic and social rights, and the human rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada continue to require action at every level of government.

Disability, national or ethnic origin, and race continue to be the three top grounds of discrimination complaints accepted by the Commission. Higher awareness about mental health issues and the introduction of the Accessible Canada Act may account for the higher proportion of disability-related complaints. Similarly, worldwide and domestic attention on racial issues may have been a factor in the year-over-year increase in race-based complaints.

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