Thursday, 2 December 2010

Government fails to consult on changes to Human Rights Code

For Immediate Release     Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Government fails to consult on changes to the Human Rights Code

Without conducting any known prior consultation, and in contravention of international law, the Government of Saskatchewan introduced Bill 160 to the Legislature yesterday. The bill will abolish Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Tribunal, the province’s dedicated Human Rights adjudication body and appears to make it more difficult for society’s most vulnerable citizens to protect their Human Rights.

“Bill 160 represents the latest example of a provincial government that ignores international law and refuses to consult prior to introducing legislation affecting everyone in Saskatchewan,” said Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President Larry Hubich. “Human Rights are the fundamental rights of all citizens and the Human Rights Code overrides all other laws in Saskatchewan. Thorough, public, and transparent consultations should be conducted before changes to the Code are even considered.”

The effects of the Bill are far-reaching and appear to consolidate with the Chief Human Rights Commissioner a number of unsettling powers. The proposed legislation seems to, for example, give the Chief Commissioner the power to dismiss Human Rights complaints at a whim and to force complainants to accept settlements offered by offenders.

“It is especially disturbing that consultations with the people of Saskatchewan were not conducted prior to the introduction of Bill 160, because it seems to make significant changes to the Human Rights Code of our province,” said Hubich, “changes that will impact the ability of many in Saskatchewan to have their stories heard.”

The amendments, if passed, will impose unreasonable deadlines for issuing a complaint on society’s most vulnerable. Requirements before a complaint can be heard have also been made more stringent. “It is unclear to us that any of the amendments will actually benefit victims of Human Rights violations,” said Hubich.

Not only does the introduction of Bill 160 continue the Government’s pattern of ignoring international law, but it also continues a pattern of striking against the most vulnerable in our society. The underprivileged victims of Human Rights violations will only face more obstacles.

“The Government should take Bill 160 off the table so that meaningful consultations can be conducted prior to any proposed change to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.”
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The SFL represents over 98,000 unionized workers across the province in 37 affiliated unions.
For more information, contact Heath Smith at (306) 539-6469

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