What are Systemic Initiatives?

When groups of people in Saskatchewan jointly face a similar issue that falls under The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code (the “Code”), the Commission may be able to address those concerns systemically. A systemic approach addresses discrimination that is known to, or has the potential to, affect groups of people based on protected grounds.

Systemic Initiatives and 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. The systemic approach 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 approach 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 24 (h) of the Code requires the Commission to:

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

Requests for systemic remedies 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

All of the Commission’s work is also about using the most appropriate form of resolution. In some cases, a systemic remedy 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.

Systemic Initiatives

The Commission has successfully addressed inequity and inequality that affects individuals and groups by considering the systems which, sometimes by design, and sometimes unintentionally, create barriers or disadvantage.

Some of the Commission’s systemic initiatives include: