FINANCIAL RESOURCES OF THE COMMISSION
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission’s budget allocation for 2022-2023 was $2.606M. Over the years, there have been many operational changes that posed a critical challenge to meeting party expectations and Court-imposed deadlines.
While resourcing the Commission is an issue, the Commission has implemented innovative practices to maintain a high level of service.
In the summer of 2011, a revised Saskatchewan Human Rights Code was proclaimed in force and effect in the province. The revisions made to the Code markedly changed the human rights complaint process and how complaints are procedurally managed and adjudicated. Some of the more significant changes included:
- A change in the adjudication process to assure unbiased adjudication. The legislation changed to refer matters to the Court of King’s Bench for hearing. The change also recognized the quasi-constitutional rights of citizens that are embedded in the Code.
- Alternate and Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) became formally embedded in the process at all stages, from initial inquiry to hearing, allowing off-ramping from the trial process.
- Investigation and resolution of systemic patterns of discrimination were formally added to the Commission’s mandatory processes.
While significant process changes were made, there was no reduction in the mandatory work of the Commission, which continues to include:
- The development and conduct of educational programs designed to eliminate discriminatory practices, and
- The conduct and encouragement of research in the field of human rights.
Between 2012 and 2022, the volume of work of the Commission significantly increased. For instance:
- The number of inquiries made to the Commission doubled. Each inquiry is personally answered.
- The number of inquiries that became “matters” for initial decision as to whether a prima facie case of discrimination had been made also doubled.
- Each of those matters receives a written decision concerning jurisdiction of the Commission.
- Because of the early intervention of pre-formalized complaint ADR processes, the number of matters that required formalized court pleadings increased somewhat, but generally remained within an overall average increase of 10%.
- Over the 10-year period starting with the first King’s Bench hearing, the Court has interpreted the Code to allow more procedural steps to be imported from the standard civil litigation process. In consequence, additional legal analysis and resourcing is necessary and more time is required to allow these steps to occur.
The Commission is committed to resolution of discriminatory practice through systemic ADR methods rather than Court of King’s Bench class action complaints which is exponentially more costly and time consuming than reaching resolution by consensus.
In fiscal year 2022-23 the Commission:
- Conducted 25 pre-formalized complaint resolution attempts.
- Wrote 306 legal decisions in the complaint process.
- Resolved 476 open complaint files.
- Wrote legal pleadings for 101 formalized complaint matters.
- Approved resolution in 83 matters.
- Completed investigations in 61 matters.
- Guided 105 matters through Mediation and Directed Mediation processes.
- Made application for hearing to the King’s Bench Court in 10 matters.
- Took carriage of 6 matters through the Court of King’s Bench pre-hearing process.
- Took 5 matters through the hearing process.
- Managed appeal materials on 2 matters.
- Responded to FOIP and Judicial Review applications.
- Participated in Questioning on 2 matters.
- Participated in 8 motions in King’s Bench Chambers.
- Provided online resources to 47,946 people through the Commission’s website.
- Provided meaningful and timely advice to 469 employers via the Commission’s Business Help Line.
- Reached hundreds of employers and employees through the Commission’s equity program.
- Worked with numerous stakeholders in the province.
- Assisted the Ministry of Justice with inquiries.
The performance of the Commission continues to provide services in a timely manner utilizing its allotted resources which is a testament to the skill and professionalism of its staff.