Revamped commission part of legislative changes
By Naomi Ambrose, Staff Writer
The BC government will be introducing legislative changes to the provincial Human Rights Code.
These changes will aid with the recreation of a human rights commission for British Columbia that will serve the human rights of residents.
According to a press release from the BC government, the province’s previous commission became defunct in 2002. Currently BC is the sole Canadian province without a body governing human rights.
In a previous release in August, David Eby, BC’s Attorney General, shared his perspective about the purpose of the commission.
“This new human rights commission will work with people throughout BC to promote equality and fairness,” he said.
Eby also noted the length of time that BC has not had a human rights commission: “The 16 years of British Columbia being the only province without a provincial organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights are coming to an end.”
A key aspect of the new act would be the introduction of a human rights commissioner. As per the recent release, “The proposed Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2018 will create an independent human rights commissioner who reports to the legislative assembly.”
The commissioner’s duty would include informing British Columbians about human rights matters and tackling discrimination concerns. The commissioner would be able to implement “educational tools, policies and guidelines to promote human rights and combat widespread patterns of inequality and discrimination in society.”
Details about the history of the proposed legislation were also included in the release. The upcoming legislation emerged after a public consultation in fall of 2017 that lasted eight weeks. The consultation involved the responses of British Columbians about their desires from a human rights commission.
The consultation, led by Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary of Sport and Multiculturalism, ended in December 2017 and resulted in a report titled A Human Rights Commission for the 21st Century: British Columbians Talk About Human Rights. The report contained 25 recommendations regarding the new commission as well as the BC Human Rights Tribunal and the Human Rights Clinic.
Kahlon also shared his insights about the upcoming commission.
“This piece of legislation is a victory for the thousands of British Columbians who have fought for years to bring this about,” Kahlon said in the press release. “As we increasingly become a more diverse society, it is critical we have a commission that will proactively and passionately uphold the rights of all British Columbians.”