THE ADVOCATE 79
VOL. 77 PART 1 JANUARY 2019
By the Honourable David Eby, Q.C.*
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION LEGISLATION
Statistics Canada’s recent news that police-reported hate crime in Canada
increased by nearly fifty per cent last year is disturbing, especially given
that B.C. is one of the four provinces identified as home to the largest
increase. We have come a long way to ensure our province is welcoming to
everyone, but we have a lot of work yet to do.
For the past 16 years, B.C. has not had a Human Rights Commission. In
2002, the province’s former commission was dismantled. Until late last
year, B.C. was the only province in Canada without such a body, whose purpose
is to advance public understanding of, and support for, human rights.
Last November, the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2018 received
royal assent. This law will re-establish a human rights commission for the
province, creating an independent human rights commissioner that reports
to the Legislative Assembly. The new commissioner will have the key functions
of educating British Columbians on human rights as well as examining
and addressing issues of discrimination. The commissioner will also have
the mandate to develop educational tools, policies and guidelines to promote
human rights and combat widespread patterns of inequality and discrimination
in society. We expect the Human Rights Commission will be
operational in the fall of 2019.
The legislation introduced in November 2018 was informed by an eightweek
public engagement conducted in fall 2017 that asked British
Columbians what they want most from a human rights commission. Parliamentary
Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism Ravi Kahlon led the
extensive consultation, culminating in the December 2017 report, “A
Human Rights Commission for the 21st Century: British Columbians Talk About
* The Honourable David Eby, Q.C., is British Columbia’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General.