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​​Alberta Human Rights Information Service March 21, 2022

In this issue:

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is March 21

Human rights case law: Tribunal decisions
     1. Recent Tribunal decisions
     2. Summary of a recent Tribunal decision

Commission news
     1. Amendments to the Alberta Human Rights Act
     2. Complaint process changes
     3. 2020-21 Annual Report now available
     4. ​The Commission and the community
     5. Human Rights and Multiculturalism Grant project
     6. 2021/22 Human Rights and Multiculturalism Scholarship recipients

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IS MARCH 21

UN #FightRacism
United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/observances/end-racism-day

March 21 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Observed annually, this day encourages everyone to grapple with the effects of racism in our communities and take action to combat hate and discrimination in all its forms. The United Nations theme for 2022 highlights "voices for action against racism." Today, the Commission recognizes the contributions of many organizations who regularly raise their voices against race-based hate and intolerance in Alberta.

As part of efforts to tackle discrimination, the Commission is partners with the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee, Coalitions Creating Equity, Calgary Indigenous Human Rights Circle, and the Alberta Ability Network. By working together towards eliminating racism, we all have a stronger voice.

Supported by an Indigenous Advisory Circle, the Commission has also been identifying ways to better serve Indigenous communities by reducing existing barriers in the Commission's internal procedures, policies, and systems. While research shows that Indigenous people face disproportionate rates of racism, discrimination, and hate as a result of the lasting effects of Canada's colonial legacy, the Commission's data suggests they do not access the human rights complaint system at the same rate as non-Indigenous people. Through the Indigenous Human Rights Strategy, the Commission aims to increase access to our programs and services, and reduce racial discrimination for Indigenous people throughout Alberta.

The Commission also acknowledges the work and dedication of the Alberta Anti-racism Advisory Council, Calgary Anti-racism Action Committee, Edmonton Anti-racism Advisory Committee, and the 22 Alberta municipalities that have joined the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities. Each of these important initiatives is helping to identify and mitigate common barriers faced by Alberta's diverse populations, including Indigenous Peoples, immigrants, and other racial minorities.

On this significant date, the Commission invites all Albertans to challenge their own biases and work to raise their voices against racism, whenever it appears.

Message from the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals
To recognize this important day, read a message "Lessons from COVID-19: The Impact of Caregiving during a Pandemic" from Kathryn Oviatt, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission.

Get engaged
To celebrate this day, participate in the Planting the Seed of Reconciliation: Roundtable and Drummer Showcase. Hosted by the Centre for Race and Culture and Creating Hope Society, this community conversation brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to commemorate the day, talk about reconciliation, and address issues of discrimination. The Commission will provide opening remarks on discrimination in the workplace. Register here.

HUMAN RIGHTS CASE LAW: TRIBUNAL DECISIONS

1.  Recent Tribunal decisions

Read all Tribunal decisions free of charge on the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) website.

2.  Summary of a recent Tribunal decision

Interim decision to add a personal respondent where the corporate respondent has been struck

Pujji v 1819010 Alberta Ltd o/a Liquor King Spruce Grove, 2022 AHRC 14 (Alberta Human Rights Tribunal, January 24, 2022)

The complainant alleged that her supervisor/employer sexually harassed her at the respondent's liquor store. Before the complaint proceeded to a hearing to decide if the allegations had merit, the liquor store was struck from the corporate registry. The alleged harasser's wife owned the store. He and his wife owned a number of stores and supervised staff. The Director of the Commission applied to have the husband and wife added to the complaint as personal respondents because the claim could not proceed against the store or result in a remedy, if valid.

The Tribunal considered the matter, applying the two-part test from Sigrist and Carson v London District Catholic School Board et al., 2008 HRTO 14: 1) are there facts alleged that, if proven, could support a violation of the complainant's rights, and 2) would adding the respondents cause substantial prejudice to their ability to answer and defend the allegations?

The Tribunal found that there were facts on the record to support adding the personal respondents and that it would not cause substantial prejudice to do so. The wife was the storeowner and the husband was the alleged perpetrator and the complaint's de facto employer. Without naming them, the complainant would be unable to get a remedy, should the Tribunal find that the allegations against the husband were proven.

See also:
Personal respondent named where they are a shareholder of the corporation
Crawford v Schur Trucking Ltd., 2022 AHRC 25 (Alberta Human Rights Tribunal, February 17, 2022)

Application denied to add a personal respondent where the corporate respondent is operational
McCharles v Jaco Line Contractors Ltd., 2022 AHRC 15 (Alberta Human Rights Tribunal, January 25, 2022)

Insufficient service to notify a personal respondent that they may be named in a complaint
Shkreli v Future Design Flooring Ltd., 2022 AHRC 10 (Alberta Human Rights Tribunal, January 19, 2022)

COMMISSION NEWS

1.  Amendments to the Alberta Human Rights Act

As part of the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, 2021 (No. 2), amendments to the Alberta Human Rights Act came into effect on December 8, 2021. The changes modernize Alberta Human Rights Commission processes to address complaints more quickly, reduce backlog, and make tribunal hearings more accessible. The bill gives the ability to appoint a Deputy Director to help manage complaints, allow the Director of the Commission to dismiss complaints that would be more appropriately dealt with in another forum, and change the appeal process for tribunal decisions, among other changes.

2.  Complaint process changes

In January 2022, the Commission implemented a revised complaint process to manage the large volume of complaints received, working towards a goal of resolving complaints within a year of acceptance.

Building on the lessons learned through the Complaint Inventory Resolution Project and the increased used of the Director of the Commission's powers under the recently updated Alberta Human Rights Act, changes were made to streamline the complaints process. The changes were rooted in a public-centred service model that aims to process the number of complaints received annually in a timely manner, while maintaining a fair and accessible process.

Key changes include shortened timeframes throughout the process, streamlined requests for information, and emphasizing conciliation. In the revised process, most accepted complaints will go to conciliation services, where staff will assist the parties in reaching resolution. Some complaints, including complaints that do not resolve through conciliation, will be sent to the Director's Office for a decision. The Director will either dismiss the complaint or refer it to the Tribunal, which is the Commission's independent adjudicative arm.

3.  2020-21 Annual Report now available

The Commission's 2020-21 Annual Report is now available on our website.

4.  The Commission and the community

The Commission recently participated in two virtual presentations on the complaints management process:

  • ​On December 9, 2021, staff attended a meeting with the Alberta Labour & Employment Law section of the Canadian Bar Association, and
  • On February 23, 2022, staff hosted a session for community organizations that regularly support complainants through the complaint process.

These sessions explained the modifications to the Commission's complaint management process in ongoing efforts to serve Albertans more effectively and efficiently. Both groups help Albertans navigate the human rights system, including submitting and responding to complaints. The Commission found these sessions to be useful tools in sharing information and receiving helpful feedback about the Commission's processes.

5.  Human Rights and Multiculturalism Grant project


One Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund grant recipient recently completed their funded project:

The Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of Alberta (CPHR Alberta) created a best practices toolkit for the prevention and investigation of workplace harassment and bullying. The resources address human rights practices for managers in both unionized and non-unionized workplace settings. The toolkit includes guides on: how to create a respectful workplace policy, components and costs of building a respectful program, how to ensure confidentiality in investigation, and how to determine if an investigation should be conducted internally or externally. CPHR Alberta also created customizable posters promoting respectful workplace messages with organization names and contacts.

A webinar presenting the toolkit training and resources will be available to CPHR Alberta members and non-members on May 4, 2022. Register for the workshop and learn more about the toolkit resources here.

6. 2021/22 Human Rights and Multiculturalism Scholarship Recipients

The 2021/22 recipients of the Alberta Award for the Study of Canadian Human Rights and Multiculturalism have been announced. This award encourages graduate studies that will create value for Albertans by promoting informed thinking about Canadian human rights, cultural diversity, and multiculturalism. The Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund made this award possible.

Lauren Alston received the doctoral level award. Lauren will utilize a multi-method approach, drawing from Youth-led Participatory Action Research methodology to examine student perspectives on Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs in Alberta. This research will explore how student participation in GSA clubs is related to parental support and acceptance. The findings from this research could inform schools, families, and policymakers in creating safe and inclusive communities.

Zahra Upal received the Pardeep Singh Gundara Memorial Scholarship. Zahra's master's research will examine incidents of racism and discrimination faced by Muslim nurses in Alberta. Learning more about the frequency and impact of these workplace occurrences could help inform improved human rights policies and processes within the healthcare system.


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Our vision is a vibrant and inclusive Alberta where the rich diversity of people is celebrated and respected, and where everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in society, free from discrimination.