Canadian Human Rights Act

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Canadian Human Rights Act
An Act to extend the laws in Canada that proscribe discrimination
Citation R.S.C. 1985, c. H-6.
Enacted by Parliament of Canada
Date assented to 1977

The Canadian Human Rights Act[1] is a statute passed by the Parliament of Canada in 1977 with the express goal of extending the law to ensure equal opportunity to individuals who may be victims of discriminatory practices based on a set of prohibited grounds such as sex, sexual orientation, race, marital status, creed, age, colour, disability, political or religious belief. In 2016, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (C-16) has been introduced to the Canadian House of Commons, to add and include "gender identity or expression" to the legislation.


The Act applies throughout Canada, but only to federally regulated activities; each province and territory has its own anti-discrimination law that applies to activities that are not federally regulated.

The Canadian Human Rights Act created the Canadian Human Rights Commission that investigates claims of discrimination as well as the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to judge the cases.

Before a case can be brought to the Tribunal it must go through several stages of investigation and remediation by the Commission. After this process has been completed, if the parties are not satisfied, the case will go to the tribunal.

If a complainant can show a valid case of discrimination the defendant can rebuke it by showing that their practice was for a justified reason. The process is generally known as the "Meiorin test" which is similar to the Oakes test justification in a Charter challenge.

Hate messages[edit]

In June 2012, the House of Commons voted to repeal Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act regarding communication of hate messages.[2] On June 26, 2013, Section 13(1) was finally repealed after a vote in the Senate.[3] Royal Assent was given to the bill on July 1, 2013.

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