The Commission informs citizens about their rights, how they are protected by law, and provides information to reduce errors that lead to breaches of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
PRINCE ALBERT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
As part of the Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 Lunch Series, Interim Chief Commissioner Barry Wilcox, K.C., addressed a group of local business and community leaders, as well as media about human rights in Saskatchewan.
Chief Commissioner Wilcox stressed the importance of education and the need for employers and employees to understand their rights, as well as their responsibilities.
After providing a brief overview of the Commission’s complaint process and discussing the prohibited grounds and public areas protected under The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, 2018, Chief Commissioner Wilcox gave those in attendance a sense of just how many employment-related complaints the Commission receives.
“Last year, the Commission formalized a human rights complaint nearly every other day,” he told the audience. “In most cases, these complaints involved discrimination in the area of employment. In fact, in 2021-2022, 64% of complaints formalized were related to employment. The year before, it was 87%. The year before that – 86%.”
Chief Commissioner Wilcox went on to explain that the vast majority of these complaints involved the same handful of protected grounds: disability, age, sex/pregnancy, and Aboriginal/other ancestry.
“As you can see,” said the Chief Commissioner, “year after year, discrimination remains a very real and very persistent problem in Saskatchewan workplaces. As business leaders, it is important for you to make a concerted effort to create equitable, accessible, inclusive, and discrimination-free work environments for everyone.”
PUBLIC EDUCATION EVENTS 2022-2023
1. Regina Open Door Society – June 9, 2022
2. Saskatoon Sexual Health, Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, Demystifying Mediation Presentation Discussion – June 29, 2022
3. Wounds to Wisdom – August 31, 2022
4. Len Grant Trucking, Human Rights Presentation, Unity – October 21, 2022
5. Mark It Read – October 23, 2022
6. Healthy Campus Saskatchewan – November 9, 2022
7. Good Business, Chapter 2, with Enough Already – November 16 & 17, 2022
8. Chokecherry Studios, Human Rights Presentation – December 6, 2022
9. Facilitator, U of S, 1st Year Dispute Resolution Course (Allan Stromberg) – January 4-6, 2023
10. Human Rights Semester Seminar U of S (Adam North) – January – April 2023
11. Regina Public Library, Public Programing Presentation on Housing – January 19, 2023
12. Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, Café Conversation Presentation – January 25, 2023
13. Ranch Ehrlo Presentation to Life Skills Program – January 25, 2023
14. City of Saskatoon, Presentation to Council – January 25, 2023
15. University of Regina, Presentation to Graduate Business Students – January 31, 2023
16. Canadian Bar Association (Allan Stromberg) – February 14, 2023
17. Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities – February 14, 2023
18. University of Regina, Undergraduate Social Work – February 27, 2023
19. MITACS, University of Manitoba, CC UNESCO, SHRC DEI Initiative, City of Saskatoon Knowledge Mobilization Workshop – March 16, 2023
20. Truly Alive Youth and Family Foundation Inc. – March 20, 2023
THE COMMISSION WEBSITE
In keeping with its mandate, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission hosts a broad range of educational materials on its website designed to help people in Saskatchewan better understand their rights and responsibilities, file complaints, and access other human rights-related information.
LANGUAGE AND ACCESSIBILITY FEATURES
In the top, right-hand corner of the Commission’s website you will find a yellow Accessibility box. By clicking on the “+” or “-” sign you can increase or decrease the size of the website’s font to best suit your needs.
Next to the Accessibility box, there is a blue language box. The default language is set to English. When you click on the language box, a drop-down menu appears featuring more than 100 available languages, accompanied by the flag of the country for each respective language.
Use the cursor on the right to scroll until you find the language of your choice and click on it.
A green menu bar spans the top of the Commission’s web page for easy navigation.
The menu bar is comprised of six sections. If you have an idea what section the information you are looking for might be in, hover over that section and a menu of sub-sections will appear.
For example, if you want to find out what the Commission has been doing lately, hover over the News & Events section and a drop-down menu will appear featuring the latest news, events, community engagement, etc. Click on the desired menu item and the website will take you directly to that page.
If you are unable to locate the information you are seeking, use the Search function located at the top of the page, next to the Accessibility box.
Type keywords into the search bar and press Enter to conduct a website-wide search.
When the Commission’s website was redesigned in 2020, one of the main goals was to create a screening tool that would assist people in filing complaints, understanding the complaint process, and determining if their complaint has reasonable grounds to proceed.
The Filing Complaints section, which can be found as a drop-down in the main menu or in clickable boxes under the banner image, is divided into five specific subsections:
- Am I in the Right Place?
- How to File a Complaint
- Ways to File a Complaint
- Road to Resolution
- Intake Questionnaire
The Am I in the Right Place? subsection provides information about prohibited grounds and public areas in which people are protected from discrimination under The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, 2018.
If, after reviewing this information, a user feels their complaint has reasonable grounds to proceed, they are then moved through the varying stages of the Commission’s complaint process online with the final step being an Intake Questionnaire that is submitted to the Commission. If, however, a complaint has no reasonable grounds to proceed, users are directed to other, outside agencies that may be able to help them.
Under the Your Rights section of the website, visitors can find a downloadable version of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, 2018 along with information to help them better understand what discrimination is and how they are protected under the Code.
Since the majority of human rights complaints occur in the area of employment, there are also two subsections to help employers and employees understand their rights and responsibilities (like duty to accommodate and undue hardship) under the Code.
In 2022, a Resolutions section was added to website to provide users with the particulars about complaints the Commission has resolved over the years, as well as complaints that have been referred to the Court of King’s Bench.
The Settlements and Resolutions subsections outline specific complaints, prohibited grounds, protected activities, the stage of the complaint process at which the complaint was resolved, and what type of resolution was reached.
These complaints are anonymized to protect the identities of both the Complainant and the Respondent. Where a resolution in not reached, the matter is referred to the Court of King’s Bench for hearing. This subsection, along with the Settlements subsection, contains a search function that is sortable by keywords, prohibited grounds, and protected areas.
There is also an expandable list of complaints currently before the Court available on the website.
EDUCATION & RESOURCES
The Education & Resources section provides a plethora of information about human rights and how they apply to people and organizations in Saskatchewan. This includes:
- Information about the Commission’s Employment and Education Equity Programs;
- Publications – such as annual reports dating back to 1972 and other reports released by the Commission over the years;
Policies and guidelines that assist in administering and interpreting the Code; and
- Downloadable information sheets that explain human rights and how they pertain to specific topics (e.g. sexual harassment, age, etc.)
Businesses, particularly those that do not have in-house human resource departments, need information about human rights related questions. In an effort to be proactive, and to help businesses avoid making mistakes that result in human rights complaints, the Commission established a business help line in 2014.
Businesses and organizations in Saskatchewan can call for human rights advice – free of charge. Every year the Commission receives hundreds of calls from businesses, service providers and other employers seeking this type of advice.
Calls can take as little as 10 minutes or can last up to an hour.
Last year, the Commission’s Business Helpline recieved 469 inquiries.
Frequently Asked Questions (service and support animals)
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, 2018 supports the rights of persons with disabilities who use service animals to participate in the public areas of life, including housing, employment, education, and access to public services and places.
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission’s Business Help Line regularly receives inquiries about accommodating people who require service animals and support animals. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions:
Q: Does the Code require Service Animals to be trained by an official organization or certified trainer?
A: No. The Code does not include requirements for Service Animal training or certification. However, most Service Animals are trained by professional trainers with experience in training animals to assist persons with disabilities.
Q: Where must a person with a Service Animal be given access?
A: A person with a Service Animal must not be turned away in rental housing, or by condominium corporations, regardless of any pet policies.
Employers are required to allow employees to attend work with their Service Animals.
Customers with Service Animals must not be denied access to facilities or services, including retail stores, restaurants, or service centres.
Schools, colleges, and universities must allow students to attend with Service Animals.
Provincial and municipal governments must not deny access or services to persons with Service Animals.
Q: Are there any limits on Service Animals?
A: In rare circumstances, such as when there are legitimate health and safety requirements (e.g., allergies), minimal restrictions may be applied. Such limitations would need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
In the rare event where a Service Animal is out of control, and/or the handler does not take effective action to control of their animal, it may be reasonable to temporarily remove the animal from the premises.
Q: Is there any standard identification for Service Animals in Saskatchewan?
A: No. There are no guidelines for service animal identification in Saskatchewan. Some Service Animals may wear a vest, harness, and/or tags.
Q: What questions can we ask to determine if a dog is a Service Animal?
A: In situations where it is not obvious that a dog is a Service Animal, a handler may be asked:
- Is the Service Animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
No inquiries may be made about the nature of the person’s disability. Nor can a handler be required to have their service animal demonstrate their training.
Q: What about identification?
A: A handler may wish to show some type of medical information, certification, or other documentation confirming the need for their Service Animal. Such documentation may be useful in confirming the need for accommodation, though it is not required that they carry it. A request to provide documentation may be reasonable in certain situations.
Q: Who is responsible for the care and supervision of a Service Animal?
A: The handler has full responsibility for caring for and supervising the Service Animal. This includes toileting, feeding, grooming, and veterinary care.
Q: What can staff do when a Service Animal is being disruptive?
A: If a Service Animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it, staff may request that the animal be removed from the premises.
Q: Can a person have their Service Animal with them as they use self-service food lines?
A: Yes. Service Animals must be allowed to accompany their handlers to and through self- service food lines (e.g., a “salad bar”).