Alberta Human Rights Information June 25, 2014


In this issue:

Human rights case law: Court and tribunal decisions

Commission news



Other human rights and diversity news:

Alberta news

Canadian news


Important court and tribunal decisions related to human rights:

McCormick v. Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, 2014 SCC 39 (Supreme Court of Canada, May 22, 2014)
Control and dependency: Supreme Court of Canada sets the new employment standard for human rights protection.
Read the summary of the court decision. 

Telecommunications Workers Union v. Telus Communications Inc., 2014 ABCA 154 (Alberta Court of Appeal, May 6, 2014)
The test for prima facie adverse-affect discrimination does not include proof of knowledge; probationary employees need only be accommodated within the scope of the position for which they were hired.
Read the summary of the court decision.

Canada (Attorney General) v. Johnstone, 2014 FCA 110 (Federal Court of Appeal, May 2, 2014)
The Federal Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and its finding that childcare obligations fall within the meaning of family status under human rights legislation.
Read the summary of the court decision. 

Canadian National Railway Company v. Seeley, 2014 FCA 111 (Federal Court of Appeal, May 2, 2014)
Federal Court of Appeal adopts Johnstone and upholds the Federal Court's decision that the employer discriminated against its female employee when she was dismissed for refusing to transfer workplaces due to childcare obligations.
Read the summary of the court decision.

Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, et al. v. Bombardier Inc. (Bombardier Aerospace Training Center), et al., 2014 CanLII 21562 (Supreme Court of Canada, May 1, 2014)
Leave to the Supreme Court of Canada granted.
Read the summary of the court decision.

Claybourn v. Toronto Police Service, 2014 HRTO 367 (Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, March 14, 2014)  
Complaints to police review boards are not enough to prevent the Ontario Human Rights Commission from proceeding with similar complaints.
Read the summary of the tribunal decision. 


1. Chief of the Commission and Tribunals completes his tenure:

On June 30, 2014, the Honourable D. Blair Mason, QC, will complete his current term as Chief of the Commission and Tribunals and will retire from the Commission after five years in the position. During his tenure, Mr. Mason strengthened the Commission in many ways, including implementing various organizational and process improvements at both the investigative and adjudicative levels that have resulted in more timely resolution and adjudication of complaints. At the regional office and Director's office level, numerous pilot projects were undertaken to streamline complaint resolution processes. A major improvement at the Tribunal level was to introduce Tribunal Dispute Resolution (TDR), which offers mediation for parties rather than adjudication at a hearing. When successful, TDR reduces both the time and expense in achieving resolution. Mr. Mason has also been a strong supporter of the Commission's education and engagement activities, wholeheartedly endorsing and participating in many activities in the community. Mr. Mason has worked with Aboriginal communities throughout the province and attended various events, seeing firsthand the work underway in Alberta communities to enhance human rights and increase understanding and mutual respect. In 2013, Mr. Mason was honoured at an Aboriginal naming ceremony and received the name of "Arriving Buffalo Bull" (Sta mi kso toa in the Blackfoot language). 

Mr. Mason has provided the following message to Albertans:
" May I for the record tell all Albertans that the Alberta Human Rights Commission comprises a dedicated staff and Members of the Commission who work every day to protect your rights of equality and cultural diversity within the framework  of inalienable human rights.

It has been my honour and privilege to have been a part of this team since my appointment as Chief of the Commission and Tribunals on March 1, 2009.

I urge the provincial government and the citizens of Alberta to pursue the ideals of a truly just multicultural society based on the foundation established by the Commission during its 40 years of service under the Alberta Human Rights Act and the leadership it will provide going forward to meet ongoing challenges."

2. Lieutenant Governor in Council reappoints Commission Director: The Lieutenant Governor in Council reappointed Don Smallwood as Director of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, effective April 2, 2014, for a term to expire March 31, 2016. You can read the Order in Council.

3. Upcoming human rights in employment forum: Family Status Accommodation and Compassionate Care Leave: The Commission is offering a breakfast forum in Calgary on September 10, 2014. This is the third session in the Duty to Accommodate human rights in employment forum series (formerly called employer forum series). You can read more about the forum and register online for the forum.

The Commission hosted the forum Navigating the Medical Information Maze on May 6, 2014 in Calgary, and the forum Family Status Accommodation and Compassionate Care Leave on April 15, 2014 in Edmonton. You can read more about these forums on the Events page of the Commission website.

4. The Commission attended recent events:


  • CASHRA Conference: The Canadian Human Rights Commission hosted a joint initiative combining a Discrimination Prevention Forum and the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA) annual conference. The conference, Accommodation Works! Toward a More Inclusive Society, was held in Ottawa on June 11 and 12, 2014. Cassie Palamar, Director, Education and Engagement, Alberta Human Rights Commission, was a member of the panel presenting at the Fostering Reconciliation symposium on June 10, 2014. Ms. Palamar highlighted the Commission's work with Aboriginal communities and organizations. Mr. Don Smallwood, Director, Alberta Human Rights Commission, attended the conference and the CASHRA Annual General Meeting.

  • Citizenship Ceremony: On June 5, 2014, the Commission, along with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, Cardel Place and the Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative welcomed 70 new Canadians from 23 countries during a community citizenship ceremony at Cardel Place in Calgary.

    Over 170 people attended the citizenship ceremony, which was presided over by Citizenship Judge Joseph Woodard. The Honourable Blair Mason, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, and Frank Muller, President, Board of Directors, Cardel Place, opened the ceremony by welcoming the participants to the event. Mr. Mason congratulated the new Canadian citizens and their families, and highlighted the shared goal of shaping a society where diversity and inclusion are valued and celebrated, and where human rights principles are reflected in our attitudes and everyday actions. Members of the community, including professionals and city leaders, along with Commission staff, led roundtable discussions with the new citizens encouraging all to share stories, experiences and perspectives on what it means to be Canadian. 

    This event was an opportunity to celebrate National Aboriginal History Month. Elder Doreen Spence offered a prayer at the beginning of the event, and the Blackfoot Confederacy drummed the procession on and off the stage. You can view additional photos of the Citizenship Ceremony on the Events page of the Commission website.


    Participants joined in a Round Dance at the Citizenship Ceremony.

    The Honourable Blair Mason, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, at the Citizenship Ceremony.

  • Law Day: The Commission participated in Law Day events in Edmonton, Calgary and Wetaskiwin on April 26, 2014 by hosting information booths. Participants attending the Law Day events engaged with Commission staff to learn more about diversity, human rights and the programs and services offered by the Commission. 

    Sushila Samy, Diversity Specialist, Education and Engagement, Alberta Human Rights Commission, at the Commission's information booth at the Edmonton Law Day event.

  • Human Resources Institute of Alberta Conference: The Human Resources Institute of Alberta hosted their annual conference on April 9  and 10, 2014 in Calgary. Sushila Samy, Diversity Specialist, and Anne Clennett, Policy & Program Consultant, both of Education and Engagement, Alberta Human Rights Commission, attended the conference to provide human rights information and resources to human resources professionals in support of creating workplaces that are diverse, welcoming and inclusive and free from harassment, racism and discrimination.

  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Alberta National Event: The Alberta Human Rights Commission partnered with the Canadian Human Rights Commission to host a display table at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Alberta National Event held in Edmonton from March 27 to 30, 2014. Over 20,000 people gathered for this final event to be part of the "national journey of healing and reconciliation," sharing the truth about residential schools and their legacy.  

5. Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund:

The Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund (the Fund) supports communities and organizations to make changes so that all Albertans can contribute to the cultural, social and economic life of the province without discrimination. The Fund also provides financial support for outcome-based projects that support changes that build equitable and inclusive communities and organizations.

When developing initiatives, organizations are encouraged to work with an Education and Engagement Consultant to develop projects that are viable and maximize the resources available. Please contact one of our consultants before applying for financial assistance. The next deadline for Letters of Intent is October 1, 2014.

PLEASE NOTE: In the following sections of the newsletter, we publish news and information provided by other organizations. We also link to other websites related to human rights and diversity. The Commission provides this information as a service and is not responsible for the content provided by other organizations on their websites or by other means. Please direct comments or inquiries regarding these organizations or their websites to the organization in question.


Alberta news

1. Workplace safety and fairness campaign: Alberta launched a new campaign, Work Right, to improve workplace safety and fairness. Highlights of the campaign include:

  • Interactive website with questions, answers and links to more in-depth information
  • Downloadable products
  • Media and social media support

You can read more in the Government of Alberta news release.

The Commission offers information on human rights in the workplace. You can learn more on this topic by visiting our website.

2. Updated Welcoming and Inclusive Communities (WIC) Toolkit: The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association launched the updated Welcoming & Inclusive Communities Toolkit: Templates and tools for Alberta's municipalities. From the WIC website: "This revised version is based on the original 2006 toolkit that was developed as part of the launch of a province-wide WIC initiative. Using much of the original toolkit's basic ideas, this version incorporates what we have learned over the last eight years." You can read more and download the WIC Toolkit for free.

3. Accommodating emergency call system: Calgary launched the emergency call system, Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1) for its deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or speech impaired (DHHSI) community. You can read more about the service.

4. Immigration matters to Alberta: The Welcoming and Inclusive Communities (WIC) initiative offers a new resource on why immigration matters to Alberta. You can read the document, Immigration Matters.

5. Compassionate care leave: Employment Standards offers resources regarding compassionate care leave. You can read more about compassionate care leave and read the Compassionate Care Leave Fact Sheet. You can also learn more about compassionate care leave by attending the Commission's upcoming human rights in employment forum, Family Status Accommodation and Compassionate Care Leave, to be held in Calgary on September 10, 2014. Details about the forum will be available on the Forums page of the Commission website after July 15, 2014. 
Canadian news

1. National survey on religion, racism and intergroup relations: The Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the Association for Canadian Studies sponsored a national survey on religion, racism and intergroup relations. The survey results highlight differences in attitudes among Anglophones, Francophones and other groups in Canada. You can read about the results in the Information Handout on Religion, Racism, Intergroup Relations and Integration Results.

2. UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: The Indigenous Bar Association and the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law released the publication, Understanding and Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: An Introductory Handbook. From the publication: "This handbook is designed to assist Canadians learn about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the UN Declaration), adopted by the United Nations in 2007."

3. Federal disability policy: The Caledon Institute of Social Policy released a research paper, Disability Policy Highlights, which discusses federal disability policy initiatives aimed at increasing the active participation of persons with disabilities in the paid labour market.


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