Open main menu

The Canadian Human Rights Act[1] (the Act) is a statute passed by the Parliament of Canada in 1977 with the express goal of extending the law to ensure equal opportunity to individuals who may be victims of discriminatory practices based on a set of prohibited grounds such as sex, sexual orientation, race, marital status, gender identity or expression, creed, age, colour, disability, political or religious belief.

Canadian Human Rights Act
An Act to extend the laws in Canada that proscribe discrimination
CitationR.S.C. 1985, c. H-6.
Enacted byParliament of Canada
Assented to1977



The Act applies throughout Canada, but only to federally regulated activities; each province and territory has its own anti-discrimination law that applies to activities that are not federally regulated.

The Canadian Human Rights Act created the Canadian Human Rights Commission that investigates claims of discrimination as well as the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to judge the cases.

Before a case can be brought to the Tribunal it must go through several stages of investigation and remediation by the Commission. After this process has been completed, if the parties are not satisfied, the case will go to the tribunal.

If a complainant can show a valid case of discrimination the defendant can rebuke it by showing that their practice was for a justified reason. The process is generally known as the "Meiorin test" which is similar to the Oakes test justification in a Charter challenge.

Specific provisionsEdit

Gender identity and expressionEdit

In 2016, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (C-16) in the House of Commons of Canada, to add and include "gender identity or expression" to the legislation. The bill passed the Commons on November 18, 2016, and the Senate on June 15, 2017. It received royal assent on June 19, 2017. The law went into effect immediately.

Hate messagesEdit

In June 2012, the House of Commons voted to repeal Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act regarding communication of hate messages.[2] On June 26, 2013, Section 13(1) was repealed after a vote in the Senate.[3] Royal Assent was given to the bill on July 1, 2013.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Original citation: S.C. 1976-77, c. 33, s. 1; current citation: R.S.C. 1985, c. H-6.
  2. ^ Jonathan Kay (7 June 2012), "Good riddance to Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act", National Post
  3. ^ NP: "Hate speech no longer part of Canada’s Human Rights Act" 27 Jun 2013

External linksEdit