WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROVINCIAL/TERRITORIAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW AND THE CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  applies only to government actions, such as laws and policies, while human rights law applies to both private and public actions by any individual or organization, business or government body, if they engage in discrimination or harassment in one of the areas covered by human rights law.

The provincial/territorial human rights laws are passed by the provincial/territorial  legislature and apply only in that province or territory. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the “Charter” is part of Canada’s Constitution and so applies throughout Canada.

Human rights law deal only with the right to be free from discrimination, while the Charter addresses a number of other human rights in addition to the right to equal treatment. Examples of these Charter rights are the right to vote, the guarantees of freedom of expression and religion and the right to be presumed innocent and to a fair process if you become involved in the criminal justice system.

Finally, in most cases, to enforce your Charter rights you go to court, while to enforce your rights under human rights law requires filing a complaint with the human rights commission or agency in your province or territory, or if a federal matter with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

See “What are Human Rights in Canada?” for a more detailed discussion.

National Association of Japanese Canadians, 180 McPhillips Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3E 2J9

Phone: (204) 943-2910 Fax: (888) 515-3192 Email: national@najc.ca

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