As you may be aware, the province has been undertaking steps to reinstate the BC Human Rights Commission. The BCGEU is pleased to hear that the provincial government is taking this step and that the province has called on all British Columbians to engage in the process by sharing their thoughts and opinions on what the commission should look like.
The BCGEU has developed a submission that brings the voice and experience of the union to the process. You can read our official submission here.
On November 14, 2017, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith and Executive Vice President Sussanne Skidmore (Chair, BCGEU Equity and Human Rights Committee) met with Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism Ravi Kahlon to provide our submission as part of the consultation process and to discuss key priorities.
During the meeting, the importance of maintaining the independence of the commission was strongly communicated by the union so that future governments cannot dismantle it (as was done by the previous Liberal government in 2002). Some of the other key priorities identified by the union include:
- Ensuring that the commission provides broad education about human rights. In the past, lack of education has prevented many British Columbians from coming forward. The new commission should also be a centre for research on human rights.
- Incorporating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as the findings from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission when dealing with Indigenous issues.
- Providing the power and ability to audit organizations, offer education, advocate for human rights, and undertake public inquiries.
In the view of the BCGEU, advancing these priorities is essential for creating a commission that is adequately empowered to advocate for and protect the rights of individuals, communities, and workers. We look forward to the reinstatement of the commission and hope that the recommendations by the BCGEU are considered in establishing a successful new human rights body for British Columbians.
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