New Brunswick was one of the first provinces to enact a Human Rights Code in 1967 and initially the protected grounds were race, colour, religion, national origin, place of origin and ancestry. Over the last forty years, age, physical and mental disability, marital status, sexual orientation, sex (including pregnancy), sexual harassment, political belief or activity and social condition were added to the Human Rights Act.
New Brunswick proudly heralds itself as the birthplace of the great human rights pioneer, humanitarian and author of the original draft of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, John Peters Humphrey OC (April 30, 1905 – March 14, 1995), born in Hampton. The little town of Hampton continues to honour Dr. Humphrey with a foundation bearing his name, the Hampton John Peters Humphrey Foundation, and a memorial located just a short distance from his childhood home.
Following the lead of John Peters Humphrey, the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission works to ensure the protection of rights granted under the New Brunswick Human Rights Act. The Commission works tirelessly to ensure a fair and reasonable process is in place for complainants and respondents. One of the Commission's priorities over the last few years has been to optimize its procedures, increase transparency and maintain its commitment to create an enhanced and quality compliance system. Officers receive ongoing investigation and mediation training resulting in thorough and detailed investigations and reports. During the 2009-2010 fiscal year, the Commission received 180 Complaints and at year end, the Commission had 206 active cases which included ones referred to a Board of Inquiry. Physical and mental disability complaints accounted for 43% of the total and the vast majority of those were employment related.
A very successful and formalized mediation program has been in place since 2004 and is offered at all phases of the compliance process. Pre-complaint interventions are also attempted where there are cases that have some urgency such as a person who may be about to lose their job or to be evicted from their dwelling place. In the fiscal year 2009-2010, 61 cases were settled at mediation and 10 cases at pre-complaint intervention.
The Commission has an active education program which is aimed at helping all persons including employers, landlords, service providers, and professional and trade organizations to avoid incidents of discrimination that lead to complaints. During 2009-10, the Commission focused on explaining its Guideline - Accommodating Students with a Disability. The Commission provided 63 presentations to parents, teachers' assistants, district education councils, community groups and the vast majority of school principals in the province. In all, 118 presentations or information sessions were delivered by Commission Staff and members of the Commission to public and private sector employers, educators, students; parents and non-governmental organizations including multicultural associations and immigrant settlement programs.
2010 New Brunswick Human Rights Award
The Commission established the New Brunswick Human Rights Award in 1988. It is awarded annually to recognize outstanding effort, achievement and leadership in the promotion of human rights and equality in New Brunswick.
The 2010 New Brunswick Human Rights Award was presented to the Elizabeth Fry Society of Saint John N.B. Inc. by The Honourable Graydon Nicholas, Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, on Sept. 14 at a ceremony at Government House in Fredericton.
Front row, from left : The Honourable Graydon Nicholas, Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick; and Randy Dickinson, Chairperson of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission.
Back row, from left: Marian Perkins, Secretary of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Saint John; Berna Critchlow, Treasurer; Denise Durette, Vice-President; and Marianna Stack, President.The Elizabeth Fry Society of Saint John, N.B. Inc. was founded in 1987 to advocate on behalf of women and female youth who are marginalized, criminalized and at risk. The group was named after Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845), a reformer of women's prisons and mental asylums and a founder of soup kitchens and homes for the homeless.
"The Elizabeth Fry Society of Saint John has been doing much-needed work to advance the rights of female inmates and accused persons and their families," said Randy Dickinson, Commission Chairperson. "Their dedicated volunteers help accused women get legal aid and advice. They also act as mentors and help preserve the relationships of women inmates with their children through their innovative book-reading program. The Elizabeth Fry Society of Saint John has made a difference for women in trouble with the law, and the Human Rights Commission is pleased to recognize this with its Human Rights Award."
WORLD MARCH FOR WOMEN 2010 NEW BRUNSWICK
Joining women in similar marches in 50 countries around the world, Commission staff celebrates achievements and the struggle for improvement of women's economic autonomy and in the fight to eliminate violence against women by participating in New Brunswick's World March for Women.
Huberte Gautreau, a Commission member of the New Brunswick Human Right Commission and Co-President of March 2010 was a speaker at the event which commenced at the New Brunswick Legislative Building. Approximately 300 people gathered for the 2 Km walk that ended at the Delta Fredericton where they gathered for a public forum. The expert panel reported on the status of childcare services, education, First Nations women, gender-inclusive analysis, income, pay equity, positions of influence, and violence against women in the province of New Brunswick and discussed ways to improve issues facing women.
Commission translates "Our Human Rights" pamphlet into multi-languages.
The report, entitled Relationship Building with Multicultural Organizations in New Brunswick: a Report and Recommendations, recommended that the Commission's brochures be simplified and made available in other languages in order to fully educate the general public on their human rights. As a result, in addition to the French and English translations already available for the pamphlet "Our Human Rights" is now available in Korean, Mandarin and Spanish. This pamphlet assists in targeting many newcomers' language needs and has been circulated to various multicultural associations and communities in the province.
Commission, Employment Standards and WorksafeNB partner on accommodation message
"Today it is generally understood that you cannot achieve equality by assuming that everyone is the same and treating them accordingly. This is especially true for people with a disability. Adverse affect discrimination occurs when uniform policies, practices or facilities have an adverse effect on a group of persons because they do not take into account their particular characteristics. The "duty to accommodate" arose from this understanding."
This lead-in to a partnered response to an employer's duty to accommodate was triggered because of employers misunderstanding the basic employment laws in the province of New Brunswick. The Employment Standards Act, Workers' Compensation Act and the New Brunswick Human Rights Act intermingle and support each others' mandate. However, the New Brunswick Human Rights Act, due to its quasi-constitutional status, does "trump" the others. Many employers struggle with making accommodation decisions based on the Employment Standards Act, most of the time not realizing that the New Brunswick Human Rights Act or the Workers' Compensation Act may require further or higher response to a particular situation. As a result, the agencies partner together to create a unified approach in promoting the understanding of the duty to accommodate in the Province of New Brunswick by producing a guide and two pamphlets for employers and workers respectively. Accommodation at Work – Rights, Obligations and Best Practices Under New Brunswick's Workers' Compensation Act Employment Standards Act and the Human Rights Act was developed and the latest version is in the process of being updated.Back to Top