Amendments to the Alberta Human Rights Act
Amendments to the
Alberta Human Rights Act came into effect on December 8, 2021. The amendments assist in modernizing the Commission’s processes and improving access to justice for Albertans. The current version of the
Act, including the amendments, is available on the
Under the newly amended
Act, sections 21 and 22 are combined to better outline the Director of the Commission's powers and duties in managing complaints. Section 21 defines how the Director of the Commission considers a complaint made to the Commission. Section 22 is repealed.
When a complaint is made to the Commission, the Director plays a screening role in determining how best to address the issue. The Director may attempt to effect a settlement and may, at any time, refer the complaint to the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals for resolution by a human rights tribunal.
Under the amended legislation, the Director may dismiss a complaint because it:
is without merit;
is made in bad faith for an improper purpose or motive;
- has no reasonable prospect of success; or
should be, will be, or has been dealt with in another forum.
The Director continues to be able to dismiss a complaint where it is determined that the respondent has made a fair and reasonable offer that the complainant did not accept.
The new amendments to the
Act expand and clarify the options that the Director has in their screening duty. For instance, the Director may refer a complex legal issue to the tribunal for determination.
The Director may dismiss a complaint that is without merit and where there is no reasonable prospect of the complaint succeeding at a tribunal. The Director’s decision is discretionary and based on the facts presented and arguments made. For instance, the Director may consider whether an allegation has sufficient evidence to warrant a full hearing. The Director will continue to exercise a screening role in collecting and weighing the information provided by the parties. In addition, the amendments continue to prohibit filing a complaint with malicious intent by allowing the Director to dismiss a complaint made in bad faith, for an improper motive or purpose.
The Director may now appoint a Deputy Director to take on assigned duties under the Act or to stand in for the Director during an absence.
Amendments that support a fair, just, and expeditious tribunal process
- Once the Director refers a matter to the tribunal, the Director may determine the nature and extent of the Director’s involvement. For instance, the Director may decide not to take carriage of a matter that does not serve the public interest or where, given the evidence and the issues, the Director deems it unnecessary.
- The amendments remove the appeal provisions under the Act, ensuring that the legislation is in line with the Supreme Court of Canada
Vavilov decision. With the new amendments, all tribunal decisions (including section 26 request for review decisions) are final and binding, subject only to judicial review.
- A party may make an application alleging that a settlement agreement made regarding a matter at the tribunal stage has been contravened. The tribunal may consider the facts and issues and, if there is a contravention found, make an order to remedy the contravention of the settlement agreement.
- While the tribunal began holding its proceedings online during the pandemic, the legislation now affirms using electronic proceedings for hearings and mediations, as well as serving documents by email.
Updated January 12, 2022