Highlights from Yukon Human Rights CommissionJuly 2010
The Yukon Rights Commission is pleased to highlight some of our most recent activities in the area of law reform, as well as initiatives with other partners that have helped to leverage our limited resources.
Rick Goodfellow, Commission member represented the Yukon at the start of the Torch Relay on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the 2010 Paralympics. Commission members and staff congratulating Rick were left to right Gloria Baldwin-Schultz, Colleen Harrington, Melissa Atkinson (chair), George Lee, Lynn Pigage and front is Heather MacFadgen and Rick Goodfellow. Missing are Commission members: Glenis Allen and Jean-Sébastien Blais and staff member Lillian Nakamura Maguire.
CHANGES TO YUKON HUMAN RIGHTS ACT AND REGULATIONS
On December 10, 2009 the new Yukon Human Rights Act and amended Regulations were brought into effect. These changes are phase 1 of Yukon law reform. Phase 2 is currently underway and the Minister of Justice has directed her department to undertake further research into improving the complaints process, broadening the scope and coverage of the Act and other matters including consultation on future recommendations. A report is due by the end of December 2010.
MAJOR CHANGES IN PHASE 1 INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
- The time limit for making a human rights complaint has been increased from 6 months to 18 months, with Commission having the ability to extend the time limit in certain cases.
- The person making the complaint must now have reasonable grounds for believing that he/she has experienced discrimination.
- The Commission has the ability to refer some complaints directly to the Board of Adjudication without an investigation in certain cases. These could include cases:
- where a speedy resolution is needed because of urgent circumstances; or
- where there is agreement on the facts but not on how the law applies to the facts; or
- where there are no witnesses to the alleged discrimination and the complainant and respondent do not agree on what happened.
- Commission may decide not to investigate a complaint when the person who made the complaint:
- declines a settlement offer that the Commission considers fair and reasonable; or
- has used or could first use other processes such as internal grievance or review procedures, which are available within an organization; or
- abandons his/her complaint; or
- fails to cooperate with the investigation.
- Definitions have been updated by eliminating the offensive term “mental retardation”, replacing “seeing eye dog” with “service animal” and eliminating a discriminatory definition of “sexual orientation”. The Act will now protect people of all ages from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.
DUTY TO ACCOMMODATE (DTA) TRAINING
The Yukon Human Rights Commission's Public Education Specialist, Lillian Nakamura Maguire co-facilitated two workshops on the duty to accommodate with Hilda Andresen, Regional Manager for the Canadian Human Rights Commission in the fall of 2009 and spring 2010. The aim was to increase the knowledge of accommodation issues for human resource professionals or those who offer training in their organization and to identify and provide further training for potential DTA community trainers. The workshop was funded through the Law Foundation of Yukon, and training materials were adapted for the Yukon context in collaboration with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
NORTHERN STRATEGY PROJECT ON JURISDICTION
The Self-Government Secretariat of the Council of Yukon First Nations, in partnership with the Yukon Human Rights Commission, will work with Yukon First Nation governments to develop a better understanding of the processes and the legislative and constitutional framework by which Yukon First Nation human rights issues are currently being addressed.
The project will assist First Nations in addressing human resource management issues as they relate to employment and human rights, as well as in the provision of services for all Yukoners whose human rights are protected under existing federal and territorial legislation. It will help to ensure access to human rights for all Yukoners, and will build the capacity of self-governing First Nations to handle human rights effectively within their organizations.
The Commission staff and chair have held meetings with the Self-Government Secretariat of CYFN. The Advisory Committee, of which the Commission is a member with the Self-Government Secretariat and Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nations plans to meet in June. The Commission is providing information on the number and kinds of complaints by Yukon aboriginal people and current and potential processes by Commissions, used to resolve disputes as they relate to aboriginal people. We are interested in receiving any current information on alternative dispute resolution processes with aboriginal peoples, particularly related to human rights issues.
PARTNERSHIP WITH NWT HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
The Yukon Human Rights Commission was pleased when the NWT Human Rights Commission invited us to collaborate on a plain language publication, "Know Your Rights" for both NWT and Yukon. The publication, available in both English and French is now available on our website, and we are currently looking at strategies for its distribution throughout Yukon.