Canadian Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act is a statute passed by the Parliament of Canada in 1977 with the express goal of extending the law to ensure equal opportunity to individuals who may be victims of discriminatory practices based on a set of prohibited grounds such as sex, sexual orientation, race, marital status, gender identity or expression, creed, age, colour, disability, political or religious belief.

The Act applies throughout Canada, but only to federally regulated activities; each province and territory has its own anti-discrimination law that applies to activities that are not federally regulated.

The Canadian Human Rights Act created the Canadian Human Rights Commission that investigates claims of discrimination as well as the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to judge the cases.

Before a case can be brought to the Tribunal it must go through several stages of investigation and remediation by the Commission. After this process has been completed, if the parties are not satisfied, the case will go to the tribunal.

If a complainant can show a valid case of discrimination the defendant can rebuke it by showing that their practice was for a justified reason. The process is generally known as the “Meiorin test” which is similar to the Oakes test justification in a Charter challenge..

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