Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Issue 10 - Third Report of the committee


Thursday, December 4, 1997

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour
to present its

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Canada
Evidence Act and the Criminal Code in respect of persons with disabilities,
to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act in respect of persons with disabilities
and other matters and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, has,
in obedience to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, October 29, 1997, examined
the said bill and now reports the same with the following amendment and observations:

Page 9, clause 16, replace lines 15 to 17 with the following:

"16. Section 16 of the Act is replaced by the following:

16.(1) It is not a discriminatory practice for a person to adopt or carry out
a special program, plan or arrangement designed to prevent disadvantages that are likely to be suffered by, or to eliminate or reduce disadvantages that are suffered by, any group of individuals when those disadvantages would be based on or related to the prohibited grounds of discrimination, by improving opportunities respecting goods, services, facilities, accommodation or employment in relation to that group.

(2) The Canadian Human Rights Commission, may

(a) make general recommendations concerning desirable objectives for special programs, plans or arrangements referred to in subsection (1); and

(b) on application, give such advice and assistance with respect to the adoption or carrying out of a special program, plan or arrangement referred to in subsection (1) as will serve to aid in the achievement of the objectives the program, plan or arrangement was designed to achieve.

(3) It is not a discriminatory practice to collect information relating to a prohibited ground of discrimination if the information is intended to be used in adopting or carrying out a special program, plan or arrangement under subsection (1).".

Concerns were raised by some members of the Committee regarding the language used in reference to the proposed Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. For example, the English version of subsection 50(1) refers to "the members or panel conducting the inquiry" while the French version refers to "le membre instructeur." Despite assurances by departmental officials, the Committee urges the Minister of Justice to review the language used in Bill S-5 to ensure concurrence between the English and French versions.

A number of concerns about the operation of the Canadian Human Rights Act that were brought to the attention of this Committee were outside the scope of this particular bill. The Committee was therefore pleased to hear from the Minister of Justice that she is committed to conducting a broader review of this legislation. As we approach a new millennium and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is time for a comprehensive assessment of the Act and its ability to promote and protect human rights into the next century.

Respectfully submitted,

LORNA MILNE

Chairman