Supreme Court to hear Canadian Human rights Commission's arguments in historic human rights case

November 27, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

Tomorrow, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) will appear before the Supreme Court of Canada to argue on behalf of the people of Canada—that they be allowed to use the human rights system to fight discrimination when it results from a federal law.

“This is a historic case with far-reaching implications for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples,” said Chief Commissioner, Marie-Claude Landry. “How the Supreme Court rules in this case will impact access to justice for Canada’s most vulnerable people, for generations to come.”

This case, based on two groups of human rights complaints known together as Matson and Andrews, seeks to address the sexism and racism embedded in the Indian Act, and how this specifically impacts the attribution of “full Status” for Indigenous persons who descend from people who were stripped of their Status in the past.

This case also challenges the argument that the Canadian Human Rights Act should not apply broadly to a federal law. Arguments presented by the Commission and the Interveners could lead to a significant ruling for people seeking to be registered under the Indian Act, but also other people living in vulnerable circumstances across Canada seeking greater and affordable access to justice:

  • grieving families of fallen soldiers who rely on the death benefit provisions of the New Veterans Charter;
  • persons seeking access to benefits under the Employment Insurance Act, including sickness, maternity, parental or compassionate care benefits;
  • military veterans, both young and old, who rely on disability awards, income support or other benefits under the New Veterans Charter, to support themselves and their families;
  • and anyone else in Canada who relies on a federal benefit program to keep food on their table, or a roof over their children’s heads.

“The Commission will argue that when Parliament passed the Canadian Human Rights Act, it wanted to create access to justice that is, at the same time, easy, simple and less expensive,” added Marie-Claude Landry. “The Act gives Canadians, especially those living in extremely vulnerable situations, the ability to access a human rights justice system, regardless of their circumstances. It is a law for all, and should be accessible by all.”

The Canadian Human Rights Commission will not be alone in making its arguments tomorrow. It has the support of several human rights organizations and individuals that will be intervening in the case. For the full list, see our accompanying Backgrounder.

The date of the Supreme Court’s expected ruling is not yet known.

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Quick Facts

Quotes

“This is an historic case with far-reaching implications for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.”
—Marie-Claude Landry, Ad. E., Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission

“How the Supreme Court rules in this case will impact access to justice for Canada’s most vulnerable people, for generations to come.”
—Marie-Claude Landry, Ad. E., Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission

“When Parliament passed the Canadian Human Rights Act, it wanted to create access to justice that is, at the same time, easy, simple, fast and less expensive. The Act gives Canadians, especially those living in extremely vulnerable situations, the ability to access a human rights justice system, regardless of their circumstances. It is a law for all, and should be accessible by all.”
—Marie-Claude Landry, Ad. E., Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission

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NEWS RELEASE

Supreme Court to hear Canadian Human rights Commission's arguments in historic human rights case

COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE

La Cour suprême entendra les représentations de la Commission canadienne des droits de la personne dans une affaire historique