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Do you need help understanding your Human Rights? Our Organization helps people understand their rights. Here is a brief overview of human rights law and process. This is not intended to be comprehensive but is meant to be a starting point to understand your rights if you are new to Canada.

In Canada, under the Constitution Act, 1867, both the Provinces and the Federal Government have the duty to uphold human rights. Complaints can be made to both levels of government depending on who the discriminator was

In most cases protection comes from the Province except where dealing in the areas of Banking (not Credit Unions), Transportation (Cross Provinces or Internationally), Communications (radio and T.V.), the Indian Act,. the Armed Forces, Federal Government Agencies, or any other body that is federally regulated.

Do I need to be a Canadian citizen to get protection? No. It does not matter where you are from or of you are landed immigrant, tourist or refugee your rights are protected. Anyone in BC gets protection from either the Federal Human Rights Act or the Provincial Human Rights Code.

Who gets protection? The Tribunal has various “Grounds” of discrimination. If you are being treated differently “BECAUSE” of one of the grounds you may have a complaint.

Grounds - The BC Human Rights Code states that a person must not discriminate against a person because of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age of that person or because that person has been convicted of a criminal or offence.

Not all of these protections are afforded in every area. Make sure to check with the Human Rights Code! (link to Chart)

Areas - When can I get protection? The Tribunal has various “Areas” of protection from discrimination. If you are being treated differently and it arises in one of the following areas you may have a complaint. The Human Rights Code will protect you in certain situations but not all. The Code protects you form discrimination when that discrimination takes place with respect to,

Discrimination in employment

              Being treated differently at work or being sexually harassed. General bullying and harassment is not covered unless tied to a

Discrimination in accommodation, service and facility

              (Example: Denying someone a service that is generally available to the public. This would cover areas such as Stratas, Stores, Buses, Taxis, Restaurants, Schools, Hospitals, the Police etc…

Discrimination in tenancy premises

              Provides protection when renting premises.

Discrimination in wages

              Prohibits paying less to one group than another. (Example: Women get paid less for doing the same work as a man)

Discriminatory publication  

              (Example: Publishing comments about a person or group or persons that is likely to incite hatred)

Discrimination in purchase of property

              Provides protection when purchasing property.

Discrimination in employment advertisements

              Prohibits advertising that is discriminatory (Example: only men wanted)

Discrimination by unions and associations

              When a Union or Employer association discriminates against you. If the Union is not representing you in a way that you think is adequate it most likely not a Human Rights issue, but you may get protection under the Labour Code.


When to File a Complaint

A complaint under provincial jurisdiction:

  • To file a formal complaint of discrimination, the complaint must be filed within 6 months of the incident.  All complaints must be filed with the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
  • The Tribunal has authority to extent this time limit in certain circumstances and considers whether pursuing such a complaint is in the public interest. See the Tribunal's Guide 2: Making a Complaint for more information.

A complaint under federal jurisdiction:

  • To file a formal complaint of discrimination, the complaint must be filed within 12 months of the incident.   All formal complaints must be filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
  • The Commission has the ability to extend this time limit in certain circumstances and considers the following factors: the reason for the delay and its length, whether the delay has made it difficult for the respondent to mount and present a defence, and whether pursuing the complaint would raise public policy issues.

 Who may File a Complaint

A complaint under provincial jurisdiction:

  • Any individual who believes they have been subject to some form of discriminatory conduct as covered by the BC Human Rights Code may file a formal human rights complaint. Individuals may also authorize someone else to file a complaint on their behalf.
  • When discrimination happens to a child, or to someone who does not have sufficient mental or physical capacity, a parent or a legal guardian may file a complaint on their behalf. The Tribunal will want to be assured that the person you are filing on behalf of, wishes to proceed with the complaint.
  • Group or Class Actions. The Code allows an individual or group to file a complaint on behalf of others if they have the permission of the others, or if the Tribunal believes the complaint is in the interest of a class or group of persons.

How to File a Complaint:

A complaint under provincial jurisdiction:

  • The BC Human Rights Tribunal has a formal complaint form that should be used. Once complete, you must file this form with the Tribunal and can do so by mail, fax or email (as long as you follow this up with a signed version of the complaint).
  • To obtain a complaint form, contact the Tribunal directly or visit their website for an online version. You can also visit any local Government Agent office across the province which has online access to all forms and user guides.  Government Agent staff can also assist you in completing and filing the required forms.

If your complaint Falls under the Federal jurisdiction you contact the Canadian Human Rights Commission for further information, for all other human rights complaints in British Columbia contact the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

The BC Human Rights Tribunal

605 Robson  Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 5J3

Toll Free:

Check for a Government Agent Office near you:

Canadian Human Rights Commission
British Columbia and Yukon Region
Ste. 301,
1095 West Pender Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 2N6

Tel: 604.666.2251
Fax: 604.666.2386
TTY: 1.888.643.3304
Regional Offices: 1.800.999.6899

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