Your Guide to Understanding the Canadian Human Rights Act - Page 2
The Commission tries to resolve complaints at the earliest stage possible, as that is a good outcome for you, the respondent, and the Commission. If a complaint cannot be resolved, then it is usually assigned to a human rights officer to do an investigation. However, a complaint can be settled at any stage in the process. Most of the time, the Commission will deal with your complaint by:
- Assigning a mediator to help the parties solve the dispute. A mediator is a neutral professional trained to help people solve problems. If the mediation works, you and the respondent will sign an agreement about what each of you agrees to do. This is called â€œreaching a settlementâ€. The Commission will review the settlement to ensure that it is fair and appropriate to both sides. The Commission can also monitor the settlement to ensure both sides do what they promise.
Grounds: Race, national or ethnic origin
Sector: Federal public service
Allegation: The complainant participated in a training program. He said that one of the instructors made derogatory comments about his Aboriginal heritage, tried several times to remove him from the program and forced him to leave on the last day, although he had successfully completed all parts of the program.
Settlement: Official recognition of his successful completion of the program.
Grounds: Race, national or ethnic origin, disability
Area: Provision of services
Allegation: The complainant, an Aboriginal woman, has rheumatoid
arthritis. She said that, while she was travelling with her children, an
attendant harassed her and her family and treated them differently
from other passengers during their journey.
Settlement: Financial compensation and a letter of apology.
- Assigning a human rights officer to investigate. The human rights officer will speak with you and the respondent, interview witnesses and review any supporting documents. Then the human rights officer makes a report to the Commission, with the information, and recommends either that your complaint be dismissed or that it be referred to the Tribunal. You can send in a letter so that the Commission members know what you think about the report when they are making this decision.
- Sending the complaint to the Tribunal. When that happens, the Commission no longer controls the complaint. The Tribunal will hold a hearing. It will ask you and the respondent to hand in documents and call witnesses to support your arguments.
After the hearing, the Tribunal will decide whether there has been discrimination. The Tribunal can:
- dismiss the complaint, or
- find that there has been discrimination and order payment or other action (called corrective measures) to resolve the discrimination.
Corrective measures can include making the respondent:
- change its rules and policies or create an anti-harassment policy.
- pay you lost wages or give you your job back.
- learn more about human rights.
- pay you for pain and suffering and any losses caused by the discriminatory practice.
If the Commission feels that the complaint deals with a matter of public interest, it can also appear before the Tribunal to represent the public interest.
The complaints process is not public. All written information is kept on file for the human rights officer to prepare a report for the Commission. But if the complaint goes to the Tribunal or Federal Court, the documents become public.
You can ask the Federal Court to review the decision. If the Federal Court agrees with you, it will send the case back to the Commission or the Tribunal to look at it again. The Federal Court cannot change the decision.
In 2008, the federal government repealed, or cancelled, Section 67 of the Act. Section 67 prevented anyone from filing a complaint about anything related to the Indian Act. Now that Section 67 is gone, Aboriginal people can file a human rights complaint against the federal government if the Indian Act or policies made under the Indian Act cause discrimination.
Starting June 18, 2011, Aboriginal people will also be able to file a human rights complaint against First Nations governments and federally regulated Aboriginal organizations if their acts or decisions under the Indian Act are a discriminatory practice. For example, denying a certificate of possession or a certificate of education under the Indian Act would be a discriminatory practice if a complainant can show that it’s because of a prohibited ground of discrimination, like family status.
Human rights decisions involving First Nations need to recognize Aboriginal and Treaty rights. For complaints about a First Nation government or service organization, the Commission and the Tribunal can consider the customary law of the First Nation. They need to balance collective and individual rights from a First Nation perspective, while respecting gender equality.
For more information about the Commission and its services,
visit the website at or call toll free 1-888-214-1090.
|Alberta Human Rights Commission||www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca|
|British Columbia Human
|New Brunswick Human
|Newfoundland & Labrador
Human Rights Commission
|Northwest Territories Human
|Nova Scotia Human
|Nunavut Human Rights Tribunal||www.nhrt.ca|
|(Ontario) Human Rights
Tribunal of Ontario
(Ontario) Human Rights Legal
|Prince Edward Island Human
|(Québec) Commission des droits de la
personne et des droits de la jeunesse
|Yukon Human Rights Commission||www.yhrc.yk.ca|
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) is part of the
Canadian Constitution. It guarantees broad equality rights and other
fundamental human rights and freedoms. It applies to governments, but not to organizations, businesses, or people. Learn more on the Charter at
The United Nations has made many human rights statements, including
the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration). The Declaration confirms that all indigenous people are entitled to individual equality rights and to collective equality rights as members of First Nation or other Aboriginal peoples. The Declaration recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination. Learn more on the Declaration at www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/declaration.html.
|Act||The Canadian Human Rights Act|
|Commission||The Canadian Human Rights Commission, an organization under the Act|
|complainant||A person who makes a complaint under the Act|
|complaint||A complaint under the Act|
The following are examples of discriminatory practices when they are based on one of the grounds of discrimination:
|duty to accommodate||The duty of an employer to make changes in the workplace to accommodate a person with special needs or for a service provider to adapt the way service is provided|
The Act applies to federally regulated employers and service providers. These include:
|human rights officer||A Commission professional who has expertise in human rights|
|public interest||A matter is in the public interest when there are concerns about public policy or public values|
|respondent||The person or organization against whom a complaint is made|
|retaliate or retaliation||A negative act or behaviour by or on behalf of the respondent as a result of a complaint filed with the Commission|
|Tribunal||The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, an organization under the Act|
|undue hardship||Circumstances involving cost, health or safety that would make it impossible or very difficult for an employer to meet the duty to accommodate|