BACKGROUND

Everyone in British Columbia has rights and duties under the Human Rights Code. The Code‘s purposes are to promote a climate of understanding and mutual respect where all are equal, to prevent discrimination, and enable people to participate equally in the economic, social, political and cultural life of British Columbia. The Code’s purpose is also to provide a means of redress for those who are discriminated against. In particular, the Code forbids discrimination based on certain personal characteristics.
Currently, British Columbia is the only province in Canada without a human rights commission. The previous commission was dismantled in 2002 in favour of a complaint-driven tribunal; however, addressing discrimination after it happens is not enough. To prevent both every day and systemic discrimination before it happens, information and education are essential. B.C. will build a leading Human Rights Commission which will bring our province into the 21st century, and prepare us for the future. Human Rights issues are diverse and constantly evolving, it’s therefore essential that the Commission is proactive and forward thinking, gearing towards achieving results and creating an environment that encourages and supports a commitment to human rights accountability in our communities.
The role of the Commission will be to address the complex, intersecting conditions that foster and preserve systemic discrimination by promoting and enforcing human rights, and acting as a driver for social change based on principles of dignity and equality. The Commission will work to expose, challenge and end widespread entrenched structures and systems of discrimination through education, policy development and public inquiries.

OBJECTIVE

On August 4, 2017, the Premier and the Attorney General of British Columbia announced that Ravi Kahlon Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism would lead a public and stakeholder engagement process in order to make recommendations about the restoration of a Human Rights Commission in B.C.

DELIVERABLE

A report to the Attorney General that includes recommendations that are based on: (1) a thorough analysis of the many different perspectives presented during the engagement; and (2) a proposed model for a Human Rights Commission based on substantive research and a jurisdictional scan of leading Human Rights Commissions globally. The scope of the engagement and report does not include the identification of costs of implementing the recommendations.

GUIDING PRIINCIPLES

The Parliamentary Secretary’s guiding principles are to ensure:
• That the public engagement is accessible to all, particularly marginalized communities, First Nations and youth;
• The engagement focuses on listening to a diverse set of people and stakeholder groups around the province to help structure the mission of the Commission, and understand the needs of citizens;
• The public is informed regularly on what is upcoming, what has been heard and what has been accomplished;
• That citizens and stakeholder groups across the province are made aware of the opportunity to participate; and
• Recommendations to the Minister are evidence-based and transparent.

TASKS

The Parliamentary Secretary’s tasks will include:
• Leading an online discussion that will pose questions to the public and allow an opportunity for everyone to provide input and ideas;
• Meeting with a broad range of stakeholders, including representatives and individuals from First Nations communities, people with disabilities, visible minorities, cultural/linguistic communities, youth, seniors, employers, industry, local government and the general public;
• Establishing and working with the Human Rights Advisory Group after the public and stakeholder engagement has been completed, with membership to be determined in collaboration with Ministry of Attorney General staff;
• Producing a final report by the end of 2017 for the Attorney General’s consideration that may go to Cabinet for restoration of a Human Rights Commission; and
• Ensuring recommendations are based on substantive research and a jurisdictional scan of leading Human Rights Commissions globally.

REPORTING

The Parliamentary Secretary will report to the Attorney General of British Columbia.
SUPPORT
The budget for this engagement will be provided by the Ministry of Attorney General.
The Parliamentary Secretary may discuss resourcing with the Ministry of Attorney General to ensure resource requirements consistent with the engagement plan are met. Resourcing may include obtaining additional policy support from the Ministry and communications support as needed.

TIMELINES

The public and stakeholder engagement was held between Sept. 21 and Nov. 17, 2017 at 4 p.m..
The Attorney General will receive a final report and recommendations from the Parliamentary Secretary by the end of December 2017.
The Attorney General will report to the public on the actions that government will be taking as a result of the feedback.

Check back here in December 2017 to read the Parliamentary Secretary’s final report and recommendations to the Attorney General.