Discussion Topic 2 – The Commission’s Role

Thank you for the feedback provided so far on Discussion Topic 1, the question will remain open for the duration of the engagement. I read with interest all of the comments: including from Angelika, who feels there is hiring discrimination against parents of small children due to child care availability; from Madhavee, who no longer laughs it off when someone says racism doesn’t exist; and from Jake, who feels excluded, bullied and abused. These stories, and many others, paint a picture of the need for a re-established B.C. Human Rights Commission.
I’d like us to imagine now what our commission can achieve. A primary role of human rights commissions in Canada and around the world is to educate the public about human rights. Other roles include hosting public dialogue, making recommendations to government, conducting human rights audits, and investigating root causes of discrimination.
Some specific examples in Canada: the Alberta Human Rights Commission hosts a series of public forums on topics such as human rights in employment and understanding gender identity and gender expression in the workplace. The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has hired an independent expert to examine police street check data related to persons of African descent. And the Ontario Human Rights Commission is calling for an end to solitary confinement in prisons.

What roles do you think the B.C. Human Rights Commission should take on?


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25 responses to “Discussion Topic 2 – The Commission’s Role

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    [-] Kevin

    Great Idea re-establishing the BC Human Rights Commission! An area which should be addressed is discrimination, harassment and bullying based on a person’s political beliefs and affiliations. The Previous Right Wing Federal Conservative Harper and Gov’t and the BC Liberals and their allies went after Left Wing supporters and tried to destroy their lives at either their Homes, Apt Buildings or their Workplace by constant bullying and harassment.

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    [-] Erin

    I think that the two groups most discriminated against here in BC, are parents of young children, and disabled people. Particularly in the upmost important areas:

    1) when trying to secure rental housing (eg. 9 out of 10 landlord tell parents “this unit is not suitable for children” or tell disabled people “this suite is not suitable for disabilities” even though they are legally required to accommodate both groups, it truly never happens.).

    2. When trying to find employment. Employers do not want to hire disabled people or parents period. We’re often told “our apologies, the position has been filled.” But the truth and fact of the matter is that Employers believe that parents and disabled people are more of a problem than they are worth, the employer thinking they are more of a liability to their buisness than an asset. They dont want parents having to leave mid-shift because their child is throwing up at daycare and needs to be picked up. And they feel as though they will have to put too much work into accommodating the disabled.

    3. From my own personal experience and from what ive seen and heard from family and friends who are disabled, I feel as though, by Service BC, the ministry and the social workers who work there, or on the 1-886 phoneline, that disabled people are systematically discriminated against in every possible way, so frequently that is has become “normal” for us… We now expect them to hold our cheques for the smallest of reasons, or send them to the wrong place. We expect them to get short and rude to us on the phone when we are crying because the 100$ school start up bonus only covered half of the supplies, so we dipped into the grocery money so our kids could have shoes, and we request emergency funds so that we can send our kids to school with lunches for the rest of the month… But we get told we should have been smarter, budgeted better, or to go ask a family member for help (an option a lot of us do not have).
    Or being told there’s nothing they can do when facing an unexpected medical cost, or an unfair eviction notice… We are simply told “well you should have done better, now you have to face the consequence”. There’s absolutely no compassion, understanding, or being treated as an equal human being when you are Disabled and dealing with Ministry who is supposed to have our backs.
    We didn’t choose to be disabled, why are we being punished for it?

    And it is for these reasons I think the BC Human Rights Commission should first and foremost play a role in the rights of Parents, and Disabled people. Particularly in the roles of Advocacy; Ministry, Employment and Landlord operations Oversight; Possibly setting rules that landlords must agree to before allowing them to rent, and setting penalties for those who do not abide, and a simplistic reporting systems for when rights are violated; Dispute resolution; and ensuring Justice is brought to those being discriminated against.

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    [-] Susan

    BC Human Rights Commission should be both broad and focused on the important areas for all disabled people and there will be a great deal of work so other groups had better get involved too so access for physical and mental, overcoming both physical and mental barriers that people have within themselves so buildings must adapt and so must people but included in this you must first educate people to a basic understanding of disability which will be challenging but if you could identify broad categories for people and then give some details and let people who are dubious of disability existing in other people know that there are variations and not to be put off by the person just because the disability might be difficult to look at for example. Mental illness is the most difficult one to get across and to deal with and needs a great deal of effort to overcome stereotypes even within the people who have the illnesses. The most important thing, which cannot be stressed enough is that no matter what efforts are undertaken on the social aspects and there are plenty which need attention ultimately we are so underemployed and underused in the workplace so maybe provide incentives to hire older experienced workers and train them on technology for example despite disability and use technology to help anyone who can be helped and provide computers for disabled people in the public possibly through a donation program because so many tools are available for communication and also develop in some way an emergency plan for earthquakes for people with disabilities there is no easy way to get out of buildings or survive an earthquake for the disabled especially physical but also mental

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    [-] George

    At age 87, I have status in Canada as an Allied War Service Veteran due to service at age 19 in the Royal Navy during the Korean conflict.
    I served in the RCN(R) and successor organisations from 1956-95 and have a decoration along with many other veterans as an Ambassador for Peace from the Republic of Korea, 2013, the 60th anniversary of the 1953 Armistice.
    I had reason to start a small claims action in Salmon Arm, BC in 2013 over false claims in a real estate transaction which was heard at a pretrial conference in the Courthouse, Salmon Arm, BC 31 October 2013.
    I was extremely upset by the conduct of the Judge acting as Chairman, when the conference concluded I contacted two different sets of lawyers regarding an appeal which would have cost between C$3-5,000 just to start the proceedings, filing a claim costs a maximum of C$150.
    I filed a formal complaint with the Chief Judge of BC and have a hard copy file covering all the documentation since starting, including a request to discontinue writing the Chief Judge, which I ignored, section 2 of the 1982 Charter.
    In Small Claims actions, no records are kept at the initial pretrial conference other than the outcome and judge’s decision, the judge can say what he likes and conduct the meeting as he sees fit.
    I recommend that all pretrial conferences be video or audio taped as a control over judges’ conduct and that the BC Human Rights Commissioner have access to this information to guarantee existing human rights are observed.
    I was so upset by my treatment by this judge, I underwent 10 hours of counselling for depression at the expense of Veterans Affairs Canada who are extremely concerned about depression among veterans.
    Meantime during the summer in good weather, I exercise my Charter Rights of Assembly, Expression, Speech by peacefully protesting outside the Salmon Arm courthouse where I am under constant video surveillance.
    This is the only means of redressing my grievance left to me and is excellent therapy.

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    [-] Kole

    Canada is a vast and beautiful country and British Columbia is no exception. I think it’s important to acknowledge that our environment is an essential part to human rights as we depend on it in order to live. The First nation’s people’s reconize this and that enate thought and belief should an example to the entire world. The humans rights commission should advocate and discuss with the global community the rights of the Earth which are directly associated with human rights. Everyone deserves to breathe fresh air and have access to clean water.