Released on December 2, 2014
The proposed Saskatchewan Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2014 will clarify that discrimination against transgender people is and has been against the law, as well as strengthen the rights of renters, regardless of sexual orientation.
“The Code is there to protect Saskatchewan people from discrimination and promote equality,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Gordon Wyant said. “These changes will expand on the protections that already exist for members of the lesbian, gay and transgender community in this province.”
The new Act repeals an exemption that allowed landlords to refuse a renter based on their sexual orientation if renting a suite or duplex unit attached to the landlord’s own home. People will retain the ability to freely select their roommates or boarders.
The proposed amendments also add gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination. This brings Saskatchewan in line with a number of provinces who have also made this protection explicit, as Canadian human rights tribunals have been recognizing protection on this basis for some time.
“Transgender people have always been protected by the Code,” Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission Chief Commissioner David Arnot said. “However, adding gender identity shows consistency with other jurisdictions and reflects the evolving nature of our province. Together, these changes remove ambiguity and reinforce the message that discrimination has no place in our society.”
The proposed Saskatchewan Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2014 also contains a number of administrative changes including:
- Raising the maximum damages the court can award from $10,000 to $20,000 where a person has wilfully or recklessly violated the Act or the person injured has suffered with respect to dignity;
- Increasing the maximum fines payable by those convicted of an offence to $10,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for each subsequent offence;
- Updating provisions that allow the Human Rights Commission to apply for court orders to produce information during an investigation;
- Making it an offence to interfere with an investigation by the Human Rights Commission; and
- Amending the Code’s hate speech provisions to remove wording the Supreme Court of Canada struck down.
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