Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
Created in 1998, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (Tribunal) has a statutory mandate to apply the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) to complaints of discrimination that have been referred to it for inquiry. The purpose of the CHRA is to uphold the principle that all individuals should have an equal opportunity to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society. Under the Act, they should not be hindered or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or a record suspension has been ordered (see section 2 of the Canadian Human Rights Act).
The Tribunal applies this principle to cases that are referred to it by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (Commission). The Commission is the first point of contact for registering a formal complaint under the CHRA. The Tribunal can only deal with cases which have been referred to it by the Commission. Since the Tribunal functions much like a court of law, it must remain impartial and cannot engage in advocacy. That said, the Tribunal is less formal than a court of law and only hears cases relating to discrimination. If a party involved does not agree with the Tribunal’s decision, that party may ask the Federal Court to review the decision, set it aside, and refer the case back for redetermination.
The CHRA applies to federal government entities, including federal Crown corporations, as well as banks, airlines, broadcasters, telecommunications undertakings, interprovincial transportation companies, and other federally-regulated employers and providers of goods, services, facilities and accommodation.
The Tribunal's mandate also includes the adjudication of proceedings under the Employment Equity Act, which came into force in 1996, and which applies to certain public and private sector employers in the federal sphere.