NDP Government Introduces Legislation To Bring Back BC Human Rights Commission

I have campaigned to bring back the human rights commission in British Columbia ever since the previous commissionwasdismantled in 2002. For the last 16 years British Columbia was the only province in Canada that did not have a human rights commission. It is significant to note that the proposed legislation will establish an independent human rights commission reporting directly to the legislative assembly.

By Harinder Mahil

Last Thursday was an exciting day for British Columbians as the BC government introduced Bill 50 that will re-establish a human rights commission in British Columbia. It was a great moment for me to see the Attorney General David Eby introduce the legislation.

I have campaigned to bring back the human rights commission in British Columbia ever since the previous commissionwasdismantled in 2002. For the last 16 years British Columbia was the only province in Canada that did not have a human rights commission.

It is significant to note that the proposed legislation will establish an independent human rights commission reporting directly to the legislative assembly.

While introducing the legislation Attorney General David Eby said “Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. By re-establishing a human rights commission, we are creating a more inclusive and just society for all British Columbians.”

Raj Chouhan, MLA for Burnaby Edmonds, who had introduced Private Members’ Bill threetimes to re-establish the human rights commission in British Columbia, applauded the government’s legislation. Soon after the legislation was introduced he stated in the Assembly: “Equality is something we must continue to strive for. For that we need institutions such as human rights commission.”

Human Rights commissions across Canada – members of the Canadian Association of Statutory Huan Rights Agencies (CASHRA)- applauded the BC government’s move to re-establish an independent human rights commission.

Human rights commissions play an important role in the prevention and elimination of discrimination. They provide free and accessible public deduction, undertake research on broad systemic issues, provide policy advice and promote human rights compliance.

The proposed commission will have the key functions of educating British Columbians on human rights, as well as addressing issues of discrimination. The commission will have the mandate to develop educational tools, policies and guidelines to promote human rights and combat widespread patterns of inequality and discrimination in society.

The proposed legislation follows an eight-week public consultation in fall 2017, that asked British Columbians what they want most from a human rights commission. Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary of Sport and Multiculturalism, led the consultation, culminating in the December 2017 report.

All of us have the right to participate fully in the social and economic fabric of our society. 

The proposed commission will pay an important role in preventing and eliminating all forms of discrimination in British Columbia.

I commend the BC government for bringing forward this important legislation. I hopethat the government will provide the new commission appropriate resources to fulfil its mandate.

Harinder Mahil is a former commissioner of the British Columbia Human Rights Commission and is presently a director of the Dr. Hari Sharman Foundation.

 

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