What is Systemic Advocacy?

When groups of people in Saskatchewan face

a similar issue that falls under The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code (the “Code”), the SHRC may be able to address those concerns systemically. Systemic advocacy addresses discrimination that is known to, or has the potential to, affect groups of people based on protected grounds.

Systemic Advocacy in the Code

The Code allows the Commission to address important human rights issues for groups of people other than through individual complaint processes, traditional public education, or equity programs. Systemic advocacy is a rights based approach to addressing discrimination that can address the concerns of a “class,” or classes, of individuals to which a single complainant might belong.

When the Commission considers using a systemic advocacy strategy to address an issue, it is in accordance with the Code. Put another way, this process should pertain to a current law, policy or practice which in some manner systemically infringes upon human rights protected under the Code.

Section 25 (h) of the Code requires the Commission to work systemically to:

“promote and pursue measures to prevent and address systemic patterns of discrimination.”

Systemic advocacy requests may originate in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, individual complaints, a group complaint, or a complaint put forward based on recommendations by Commission staff. For the most part, the Commission either has unique expertise to offer or is in a position to make a unique contribution to an issue.

Appropriate Resolution

Systemic advocacy is also about finding appropriate resolution. In some cases, systemic advocacy might be achieved through litigation (Pillar 1) or mediation (Pillar 2). In other cases there are opportunities to work proactively and incrementally to achieve resolution. The Commission may choose, for example, to facilitate input from stakeholders, organizations, experts, and the general public. By working in this manner, rather than through individual complaints, it is hoped that lives of larger cohorts of individuals, who are affected by the same or similar issues, will be improved.

Recognizing that change often requires time, the Commission acknowledges that outcomes can also become apparent over time. In this way solutions are “living” outcomes which may need to evolve over time.