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Human Rights in Canada: An Historical Perspective

Women's Rights

1900

Under the Dominion Elections Act S.C. 1900 c. 12, the only people who can vote in a federal election are ones who have the legal right to vote in a provincial election. Minorities (including women) who are excluded from voting in provincial elections are therefore automatically excluded from voting in federal elections.

The Married Women's Property Act S.M. 1900, c.27 gives married women in Manitoba the same legal capacity as men.

1903

The Married Women's Property Act S.P.E.I. 1903, c.9 gives married women in P.E.I. the same legal capacity as men.

1907

The Married Women's Property Act S.S. 1907, c. 18 gives married women in Saskatchewan the same legal capacity as men.

1914

The Supreme Court of Canada upholds a Saskatchewan law that prohibits Chinese businesses from hiring white women in Quong-Wing v. R..

Ontario passes the Act to Amend Factory, Shop and Office Building Act S.O. 1914, c.40, which prohibits "Oriental" persons from employing white females.

1916

Women win the right to vote in provincial elections in Manitoba.

Women win the right to vote in provincial elections in Saskatchewan.

Women win the right to vote in provincial elections in Alberta.

1917

An Act to Amend the Provincial Election Act, S.B.C. 1917, c.23 grants women the right to vote in provincial elections in B.C..

The War-Time Elections Act, S.C. 1917, c.39 amends the Elections Act but keeps the clause which denies people the right to vote in a federal election if they are not allowed to vote in their own provincial elections. Minorities who are excluded from voting in provincial elections are therefore automatically excluded from voting in federal elections.

The Ontario Franchise Act, S.O. 1917 c. 5 grants women the right to vote in provincial elections in Ontario.

1918

The Nova Scotia Franchise Act, S.N. 1918, c.2 grants women the right to vote in provincial elections in Nova Scotia.

An Act to Confer Electoral Franchise Upon Women, S.C. 1918, c. 20 grants women the right to vote in federal elections.

1919

The Saskatchewan law challenged in Quong-Wing (1914, above) is amended to delete reference to "Chinese" - S.S. 1918-19, c. 85 s. 3.

An Act to Extend the Electoral Franchise to Women and to Amend the New Brunswick Electors Act, S.N.B. 1919, c. 63 grants women the right to vote in provincial elections in New Brunswick.

1920

The federal government makes the franchise universal, except for minorities and Aboriginal persons.

1922

The Election Act, S.P.E.I. 1922, c.5 grants women the right to vote in provincial elections in P.E.I.

Married Women's Property Act S.A. 1922, c. 10 gives married women in Alberta the same legal capacity as men.

1928

Alberta's Sexual Sterilization Act is enacted. Similar laws are enacted in other provinces.

In Edwards v. AG for Canada (The "Persons" Case) [1928] S.C.R. 276, the Supreme Court of Canada decides that a woman is not a "qualified person" and therefore cannot be appointed to the Senate of Canada.

1929

In Edwards v. AG for Canada (The "Persons" Case) [1930] A.C. 124, the British Privy Council overturns the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada and allows women to be appointed to the Senate.

1940

An Act Granting to Women the Right to Vote to be Eligible as Candidates, S.Q. 1940, c.7 gives women the right to vote in Quebec elections.

1948

The United Nations enacts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

1951

The Fair Employment Practices Act, 1951 (S.). 1951, c.24) is passed in Ontario.

Equal pay legislation is introduced in Ontario.

1952

Equal pay legislation is passed in Saskatchewan .

1953

Canada passes the Fair Employment Practices Act.

Equal pay legislation is passed in B.C.

Fair employment legislation is enacted in Manitoba .

Fair employment legislation is enacted in Nova Scotia.

1954

The federal government declares its fair wages policy.

1956

The federal government passes the Female Employees Equal Pay Act S.C. 1956, c.38.

Equal pay legislation is passed in Nova Scotia (S.N.S. 1956, c.5).

Equal pay legislation is passed in Manitoba (S.M. 1956, c. 18).

Fair employment legislation is enacted in New Brunswick (S.N.B. 1956, c.9) , British Columbia (S.B.C. 1956, c. 16) and Saskatchewan (S.S. 1956, c. 69) .

1957

Equal pay legislation is passed in Alberta (S.A. 1957, c. 38, s. 41).

1960

The Canadian Bill of Rights receives Royal Assent.

1962

Ontario enacts the Human Rights Code S.O. 1961-62, c.93.

1963

Nova Scotia enacts its Human Rights Act S.N.S. 1963 c.5.

1964

Quebec's Civil Code is amended to give married women full legal rights (S.Q. 1964, c. 66, s.1, replacing Article 177).

Fair employment legislation is passed in Quebec.

1966

The Alberta Human Rights Act is enacted (and becomes the Individual Rights Protection Act S.A. 1972, c.2).

Regulations are passed under the federal Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act S.O.R. 67/67-95.

1967

The New Brunswick Human Rights Act is enacted (S.N.B. 1967 c. 13 ).

1968

The PEI Human Rights Act is enacted (S.P.E.I. 1968 c. 24).

1969

The Nfld. Human Rights Act (S. Nfld. 1969, No. 75) is passed.

The B.C. Human Rights Act (enacted S.B.C. 1969 c.10 ) is passed.

1970

Manitoba enacts its Human Rights Act (S.M 1970, c.104).

1972

Alberta's Sexual Sterilization Act is repealed.

1975

Quebec passes its Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, S.Q. 1975 c. 6. The charter includes political rights, fundamental freedoms, anti-discriminatory provisions, and equal pay provisions.

1976

The United Nations passes the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights .

1977

The Canadian Human Rights Act, S.C 1976-77, c.33 is enacted.

1979

Saskatchewan consolidates its human rights legislation into one, broad code covering all human rights and fundamental freedoms (R.S.S. 1978, c.S.24.1).

1982

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is enacted as part of the Constitution Act, 1982.

1986

The Federal government passes the Employment Equity Act .

In Re Eve [1986] 2 S.C.R. 388 , the Supreme Court of Canada decides that the non-therapeutic sterilization of mentally deficient adults may not be authorized by the courts.

1987

Systemic discrimination in the hiring of women is found to be unlawful in C.N.R. v. Canada (C.H.R.C.) [1987] 1 S.C.R. 1114.

1989

The Supreme Court of Canada decides that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination in Janzen v. Platy Enterprises [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1252.

1995

Thibaudeau v. R. [1995] 2 S.C.R. 627 - Child support payments are deemed taxable income according to s. 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Miron v. Trudel [1995] S.C.R. 418 - The exclusion of unmarried partners from accident benefits available to "spouses" under a statutory auto insurance policy violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms .

1999

The Extradition Act (S.C. 1999 c. 18) is amended to hold that extradition should be refused where the request is made for the purposes of punishing a person because of his or her race, religion, language, sex, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or age,

An aerobic fitness requirements test is found to discriminate against women on basis of their physiology in B.C. (Public Service Employee Relations Commission) v. B.C. Government and Service Employees Union (SCC, September 9, 1999).