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28Nov
2017

Local Government Services and the Human Rights Code

This paper is an update to the 2011 seminar paper “Local Government Services – Striking the Accommodation Balance”. Local governments provide various services to members of the public and those services must be provided in a non-discriminatory manner in accordance with Section 8 of the Human Rights Code (the “Code”):

Discrimination in accommodation, service and facility

8 (1) A person must not, without a bona fide and reasonable justification,

(a) deny to a person or class of persons any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public, or
(b) discriminate against a person or class of persons regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public

because of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or age of that person or class of persons.

(2) A person does not contravene this section by discriminating

(a) on the basis of sex, if the discrimination relates to the maintenance of public decency or to the determination of premiums or benefits under contracts of life or health insurance, or
(b) on the basis of physical or mental disability or age, if the discrimination relates to the determination of premiums or benefits under contracts of life or health insurance.

“Accommodation”, “service” and “facility” are not defined in the Code and generally there is little distinction made between these three terms. The Human Rights Tribunal has interpreted these terms broadly and therefore, a wide range of activities fall within the scope of section 8, including bylaw enforcement and approval of development permits. We will review the cases that have been decided by the Human Rights Tribunal since 2011. These cases generally fall into three categories: 1. Zoning, Development Permits and Accessibility 2. Recreation 3. Bylaw Enforcement and Policing These cases illustrate the range of local government services being challenged by members of the public.

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