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Canadian Human Rights Act

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Canadian Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) is a 1977 statute designed to guarantee equality of opportunity and freedom from discrimination on a number of grounds, including:

  • Race or Colour
  • National or Ethnic Origin
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Marital or Family Status
  • Genetic Characteristics
  • Disability
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The CHRA prohibits discrimination in access to goods, services, or accommodations; employment; and wages. Employers are also required to accommodate the needs of individuals, unless doing so would impose undue hardship, taking into account health, safety, and costs.

Violations of the CHRA are heard by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), which investigates complaints of discrimination, as well as monitors programs, policies, and legislation that affect designated groups to ensure their human rights are protected.

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Because of the constitutional division of powers between the Canadian federal and provincial governments, though, the CHRA covers only the Canadian federal government, federal agencies, and federally-regulated businesses and industries. All other governmental organizations and businesses are covered by provincial human rights statutes.

Federally-regulated industries include:

  • Banks
  • Transportation
  • Telecommunications
  • Broadcasting
  • Fisheries
  • Grain elevators, feed, and seed mills
  • Uranium mining and processing

In addition, federal Crown corporations, private businesses necessary to the operation of a federal act, and many First Nations activities are also subject to the CHRA.