Early priorities for the new independent B.C. Human Rights Commission should include fighting discrimination based on gender, Indigenous identity and immigrant status, a report by Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon stated.
Kahlon, who is the Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism, outlined 25 recommendations in a report to Attorney General David Eby released Sunday.
“Rejuvenate” and “re-energize” B.C.’s human rights system, I was told. With this report, particularly its recommendations, we are opening a new chapter in the history of human rights in B.C. #BCHumanrights https://t.co/ye6w2RLPS9 pic.twitter.com/z1jMUIsEY5— Ravi kahlon (@KahlonRav) December 10, 2017
He described B.C.’s past with human rights commissions as “rocky,” pointing out that the province is the only one in Canada without one after then-Premier Gordon Campbell eliminated it in 2002.
Campbell’s government had retained the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, an an independent, quasi-judicial body that deals with human rights complaints.
Chief among the recommendations was that it be an independent body that reports to the B.C. legislature, rather than the Attorney General.
“There was a strong sense from the engagement process that people wanted some stability and some independence,” said Kahlon.
The report noted the flaws in B.C.’s current Human Rights Tribunal, stating that “as an impartial mediator and decision maker, the tribunal is not able to take on systemic discrimination by instituting preventative measures to combat discrimination or taking on province-wide educational and advocacy functions.”
Kahlon said his report was based on eight weeks of consultations with people across B.C.
“The report released today recommends a commission that is mandated and resourced to prevent and resolve systematic issues of discrimination in B.C.,” said Kahlon.
Along with the 25 recommendations, Kahlon’s report included three early priorities: collaborating and consulting with Indigenous groups to develop policies in agreement with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; to look at whether gender needs to be included on public documents and to look at how foreign credentials and instances of discrimination against immigrants are handled.
The report outlined a suggested structure for the commission that would include one appointed commissioner supported by staff, an advisory council working groups and community partnerships.
Kahlon said that he sees the commissions role as separate from that of the human rights tribunal and that the new body will focus on creating education tools, workplace and organization policies and awareness campaigns regarding human rights.