The B.C. Government plans to introduce legislation in the fall that will re-establish a human rights commissioner, and support progress on gender equity and LGBTQ rights.
The legislation will amend the province’s Human Rights Code to create an independent commissioner who would report to the legislative assembly.
The former commission was dismantled back in 2002.
“This new human rights commission will work with people throughout B.C. to promote equality and fairness,” said David Eby, B.C. Attorney General in a statement.
“The 16 years of British Columbia being the only province without a provincial organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights are coming to an end.”
The province says they made the announcement ahead of Vancouver’s annual Pride festival, and that an eight-week public engagement conducted in fall 2017 led to the decision.
If passed an all-party committee will be formed to unanimously recommend a commissioner who will be subject to approval by the house.
“‘Knowing that B.C. will finally again have a human rights commission to stand up for gender equality and human rights for all of us is a great reason to celebrate during the upcoming Pride festival and parade,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End in a statement.
“When groups are targeted by hate, we as a government and a society must act. These changes will be a big step forward toward building a more inclusive and welcoming community for all.”
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal is currently responsible for accepting, screening, mediating and adjudicating human rights complaints in the province. The province says the “complaint-driven body” was favored back in 2002 over the commission.
In a release announcing the elimination of the commission in 2002, Attorney General for B.C. Geoff Plant said the then human rights structure was complicated, inefficient and slow.
“It can take years for a case to be heard, and justice delayed is justice denied. We want to rebuild public confidence in the human rights system by making sure it protects human rights in a timely, accessible, fair and affordable way,” said Plant in the 2002 release.
The current government says that a human rights commission would work to promote, protect and advance human rights through research, education and policy development.