The Commission is regularly called upon to provide human rights expertise on proposed federal laws, initiatives and policies. This year was no exception. Our positions on pressing and emerging human rights issues are informed through consultations with stakeholders and persons with lived-experience, our complaints and case law, and in-depth research and analysis. Through this work, the Commission remains on the leading edge of rapidly evolving social issues, enabling us to provide Parliament with carefully considered, up-to-date and informed advice on these issues.
In 2018 the Commission appeared before Parliamentary committees and made submissions on the following subjects:
- A more accessible Canada (Bill C-81) — welcoming and contributing to federal legislation that will require institutions and matters under the legislative authority of Parliament to proactively identify, remove, and prevent barriers to accessibility for all persons, especially persons with disabilities;
- Pay equity (Pay Equity Act) — welcoming and weighing in on Canada’s first proactive pay equity law for federally regulated workers;
- Harassment in federal workplaces (Bill C-65) — appearing before House of Commons and Senate Committees to help ensure that this new law, passed in October, improves access to justice for people who are the victims of harassment;
- Indigenous rights (Private Member’s Bill C-262) — advising Parliament on a bill aimed at ensuring Canada’s laws are in harmony with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
- National security measures (Bill C-59) — cautioning lawmakers in our written submission that any new national security measures should respect human rights law and prevent systemic discrimination of individuals based on their race, religion, or national or ethnic origin;
- Ending solitary confinement (Bill C-83) — pushing the government to consider whether their proposed new law goes far enough to end solitary confinement and meet its intended purpose;
- Women’s rights (Private Member’s Bill C-243) — supporting a national study into how the government can better protect the rights of women in Canada’s workplaces, and to ensure that pregnancy is not a barrier to equality, accommodation or inclusion;
- Housing and homelessness — lending our expertise to the National Housing Strategy by emphasizing housing as a human right and encouraging the government to apply a human rights approach to chronic homelessness in Canada;
- Rights of Indigenous women — participating in a study of Indigenous women in federal justice and correctional systems by the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on the Status of Women;
- Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination — providing a submission on private member’s motion M-103, a non-binding motion that called on the government to condemn these forms of discrimination;
- Hate in a human rights context — calling on the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights to launch a comprehensive study of the rise of hate in our public spaces, including the internet.