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Human Rights in Canada: An Historical Perspective

A Human Rights Landmark:
The Saskatchewan Bill of Rights Act

Regina, Saskatchewan
April 1, 1947

Saskatchewan has a special place in the development of Canadian human rights. For instance, Saskatchewan, under the leadership of Premier Tommy Douglas, introduced the first hospital insurance in Canada. Moreover, in 1947, it introduced the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights Act, 1947, S.S. 1947, c.35 - Canada's first general law prohibiting discrimination.

When judges faced discrimination in the past, they often threw up their hands and said, "It's not illegal, so there's nothing I can do about it." Not anymore, at least in Saskatchewan. For the first time in this country's history, a law...

  • affirms the fundamental freedoms that Canadians now take for granted
  • prohibits discrimination on account of race, creed, religion, colour or ethnic or national origin
  • prohibits discrimination with respect to accommodation, employment, occupation, and education
  • prohibits publications that are likely to deprive someone of his or her legal rights on account of race, creed, religion, colour or ethnic or national origin.

Finally, discrimination no longer just feels wrong - it is wrong.

Did you know?

In 1960, Saskatchewan will introduce universal Medicare, providing all its citizens with no cost access to medical services. Although the province's doctors went on a bitter strike in protest of the new program, it survived, and became accepted and established throughout Canada.

Want To Know More?

Saskatchewan Bill of Rights Act. 1947, S.S. 1947, c.35