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Human Rights in Canada

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"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."

In 1982, the Government of Canada passed legislation known as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter entitles all Canadians to certain fundamental rights under law such as freedom of thought, speech and association, equality rights (prohibits discrimination on the basis or race, colour, gender, national or ethnic origin, age, mental or physical disability and sexual orientation), democratic rights, legal rights, mobility rights, language rights and rights for aboriginal peoples.

In addition, the Federal Government and Provinces have passed Human Rights legislation to go hand in hand with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to provide Canadians from coast to coast comprehensive protection from acts of discrimination. Human Rights Commissions have been created to uphold the rights under the legislation.

Human Rights laws prohibit discrimination and harassment in areas of employment, housing, public services such as schools and hospitals, certain associations and publications if the action is based on a persons race, religion, religious creed, sex, marital status, physical disability, mental disability, political opinion, sexual orientation, colour or ethnic, national or social origin, age and family status.

Although there are similar themes amongst the provincial and federal legislations there are some differences. In order to fully understand your rights it is important to read the appropriate legislation and any guidelines provided by the Human Rights Commissions.