Alberta Human Rights Information Service December 10, 2014

In this issue:

Human rights case law: Court and tribunal decisions

Commission news

Other human rights and diversity news:

Significant dates

International news

Publications and Resources

December 10 is Human Rights Day

December 10, 1948 was the day on which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed by member nations of the United Nations (UN). A Canadian, John Humphrey, was the primary author of the Declaration. The members of the UN hoped that the horrors of the recently ended war could be avoided if a universal code of human rights governed the behaviour of individuals and countries.

Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, offers a message in recognition of Human Rights Day 2014. You can view the message as a video or listen to it as an audio clip.

Read more about Human Rights Day and Alberta events taking place to commemorate the day.


1. I
mportant court and tribunal decisions related to human rights:

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board v. Fair, 2014 ONSC 2411, CHRR Doc. 14-3096 (Ontario Supreme Court, September 29, 2014)
Reinstatement of employee and large damages awarded by Ontario Human Rights Tribunal upheld by Court

Ms. Fair was employed by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (the Board) when she developed a psychiatric disorder and subsequently left on a disability leave. The Board was unable to accommodate Ms. Fair without causing undue hardship, and her employment was terminated. Ms. Fair filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The Tribunal found discrimination and despite the long period of time between termination and the complaint being heard, ordered reinstatement of the employee. The Tribunal also awarded damages of $30,000 for injury to dignity and self-respect, and $419,283.89 for lost wages and reinstatement. The Ontario Supreme Court upheld all of the findings of the Tribunal as reasonable.  

Warman v. Tremaine (No. 2), 2014 FCA 192, CHRR Doc. 14-3092 (Federal Court of Appeal, September 9, 2014)
Federal Court orders 30 days' imprisonment for contempt of court in failing to abide by an order of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

Mr. Warman filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (the Commission), alleging that Mr. Tremaine violated section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act by posting material on various websites that constituted discrimination on the grounds of religion, national or ethnic origin, and race or colour. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) found the complaint was substantiated and ordered that Mr. Tremaine remove the offensive material from the websites. Mr. Tremaine failed to remove the offensive material from the websites, and further continued to post additional messages on the websites in contravention of the order. The Commission moved to have the respondent held in contempt of court, and the Federal Court issued this order. However, the Federal Court refused to find contempt of court because Mr. Tremaine did not receive adequate notice that the CHRT order was filed with the Federal Court. The Commission appealed the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA), and the FCA held that Mr. Tremaine's knowledge of a CHRT order was a sufficient basis for a finding of contempt.

The Federal Court subsequently sentenced Mr. Tremaine to 30 days' imprisonment and further ordered removal of the offensive messages from the websites, failing which he would be sentenced to imprisonment for six months or until the messages were removed from the websites, whichever came first. The FCA held there was no basis in the sentencing that required appellate intervention.

Kelly v. University of British Columbia (No. 4), 2013 BCHRT 302, 78 C.H.R.R. D/64 (British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, December 17, 2013)
BC Human Rights Tribunal awards large damages for failure to accommodate doctor's mental disability

This case involved a resident physician who suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) whose enrolment was terminated by the respondent's Faculty of Medicine. The Tribunal found the respondent failed to accommodate the complainant's disability, holding the Faculty could have accommodated the complainant by providing remedial rotations and probationary periods, one-on-one preceptors, extended rotations or other accommodations that were similar to those recommended by one of the complainant's doctors. The Tribunal held the respondent failed in the accommodation process which should have included consultation with the complainant, an examination of the program's specific concerns, and how accommodations might be implemented. The Tribunal awarded $75,000 in damages for injury to dignity and $385,194.70 for loss of wages.

The Commission recently released the following tribunal decisions:

Theresa Perera v. St. Albert Day Care Society (November 17, 2014; William J. Johnson, Q.C., Tribunal Chair)
  • Jan Buterman v. Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division No. 29 (Preliminary Matters Decision Regarding Settlement; October 30, 2014; Majority Decision: William J. Johnson, Q.C., Tribunal Chair; Joanne Archibald, Tribunal Member; Dissenting Opinion: Sharon Lindgren-Hewlett, Tribunal Member)
  •  H. N. v. Grant MacEwan University (Preliminary Matters Decision on the Appointment of a Litigation Representative; October 30, 2014; Joanne Archibald, Tribunal Chair)
  • Joanne Goossen v. Summit Solar Drywall Contractors Inc. (Preliminary Matters Decision on the Production of Documents; October 29, 2014; William D. McFetridge, Q.C., Tribunal Chair)
  • Debbie Visser v. Fortis Alberta (Preliminary Matters Decision on Costs; October 3, 2014; Catherine Christopher, Q.C., Tribunal Chair)
  • Gilles Caron v. City of Edmonton (Preliminary Matters Decision Regarding Final Settlement Agreement; June 11, 2014; Sharon Lindgren-Hewlett, Tribunal Chair)
  • These tribunal decisions can be accessed free of charge through the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) website.


    1. New e-learning centre: The Alberta Human Rights Commission is pleased to announce its new e-learning centre. Find out more by visiting the Commission's e-learning centre web page.

    You will find information on the following topics:

    • Alberta Human Rights Act: an overview of concepts related to the Act and the rights and responsibilities of Albertans
    • Discrimination and the Law: a playlist of scenarios providing examples of potential discrimination under various grounds and areas protected under Alberta's human rights legislation
    • Gender Discrimination: a playlist of scenarios providing examples of potential gender discrimination under Alberta's human rights legislation
    • Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund: a playlist of grant recipients share their stories

    Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, offers a message about the new e-learning centre. You can view the video.

    We will continue to add more human rights information to the e-learning centre and encourage you to visit often. 

    2. Upcoming Human Rights in Employment Public Workshops:
    Edmonton: January 21, 2015
    Calgary: February 11, 2015

    You can still register for these full-day public workshops. Read more about the workshops and learn how to register online. 

    3. Human Rights in Employment Forum Series:
    Accommodating Mental Disabilities (Calgary: January 28, 2015)
    Accommodating Religious Beliefs (Edmonton: February 25, 2015)

    You can still register for these breakfast forums. Read more about the forums and learn how to register online for the January 28, 2015 forum. Registration for the February 25, 2015 forum will be available closer to the date.

    4. Welcoming and Inclusive Communities (WIC) initiative receives award: The Alberta Human Rights Commission, together with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), received a 2014 Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) Award of Excellence in the Government/Public Sector category for the Welcoming and Inclusive Communities (WIC) Initiative. From the AUMA news release: "WIC's goal is to build municipal capacity to combat racism and other forms of discrimination through developing tools and organizing events that facilitate the sharing of best practices. The initiative has also provided support and information to encourage municipalities to join the Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination, and to develop tangible action plans to help them meet their commitments as a signatory. 'This national award recognizes the long-term, complex work being done in Alberta by all orders of government, and by a diversity of organizations and people, who are working together to build communities where all Albertans are welcomed, included and feel that they belong,' says Robert A. Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals."

    The Awards of Excellence are part of the CRRF's Best Practices initiative. From the CRRF website: "The Canadian Race Relations Foundation's 2014 Awards of Excellence will pay tribute to public, private and voluntary organizations whose efforts represent best practices in building an awareness and understanding of Canadian values and identity that are reflective of Canadian diversity." An awards dinner took place on November 18, 2014, at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

    Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, offers a message about the 2014 CRRF Award of Excellence. You can view the video

    Photo is courtesy of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, Symposium & Awards of Excellence 2014
    From left to right: Rachel Bocock, Director, Policy and Advocacy, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association; Alberta Lo, Chairperson, Canadian Race Relations Foundation; Cassie Palamar, Director, Education and Engagement, Alberta Human Rights Commission; Amarjeet Sohi, Councillor, City of Edmonton & Vice President, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association; Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission; Madeleine Ziniak, National Vice President, Roger's Communications (former).

    5. The Commission attended recent events:

    • Human Rights in Employment Forum: The Commission, in partnership with the Human Resources Institute of Alberta, Enbridge Pipelines Inc., Sturgeon County and the Teamsters' Union, hosted the human rights in employment forum Accommodating Mental Disabilities in the Workplace on November 19, 2014 in Edmonton. Darrell Petersen, Senior Legal Counsel, Enbridge Pipelines Inc.; Tracy Johnson, Mental Health Educator, Canadian Mental Health Association; and Janice Ashcroft, Q.C., Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, all emphasized the stigma still associated with mental health issues and provided concrete strategies for accommodating individuals with mental health disabilities. The session concluded with a discussion of scenarios based on real cases. 

  • National Restorative Justice Symposium: Cam Stewart, Policy and Program Consultant, Alberta Human Rights Commission and Anna Robinson, Project Coordinator for the Inclusive Restorative Practices Project, facilitated a pre-conference full-day workshop, Inclusive Restorative Practices, and a conference session, Using restorative principles to promote reconciliation, understanding and cultural awareness, at the 2014 National Restorative Justice Symposium held in Banff from November 16 to 18, 2014. Over 250 delegates, including lawyers, mediators, practitioners and educators in restorative practices from across North America, attended the symposium.
    Anna Robinson, Project Coordinator for the Inclusive Restorative Practices Project, and Cam Stewart, Policy and Program Consultant, Alberta Human Rights Commission, at the National Restorative Justice Symposium.

  • Personal Information and Privacy Connections Conference presentation: Janice Ashcroft, Q.C., Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, was part of a plenary panel along with Glenn Solomon, Q.C., Managing Partner, JSS Barristers, and Abby Deshman, Director, Public Safety Program, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, at the 2014 Personal Information and Privacy Connections Conference on November 14, 2014 in Calgary. The panel spoke about the intersection of human rights and privacy. Ms. Ashcroft presented on how the surveillance of individuals who are absent from work can conflict with human rights, and commented on the strict framework that arbitrators and human rights decision makers have placed around the  surveillance of employees.

  • Alberta Disabilities Forum: The Alberta Disabilities Forum, a coalition of over forty non-profit Alberta-based disability organizations, hosted a one-day forum on October 23, 2014 in Edmonton. Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, attended the event and provided the keynote address, speaking about the need to eliminate the barriers that people with disabilities face in order to open up opportunities and create possibilities. Mr. Philp commended the participants for the progress they have made and emphasized that together we are involved in creating a society full of possibilities that respects the potential of each individual to contribute to and fully participate in a society that values and embraces our diversity.

  • Presentation to university law school students: Janice Ashcroft, Q.C., Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission spoke to students at a University of Calgary law class on October 7, 2014. The students learned about human rights practice and procedure and emerging current human rights issues.
  • Aboriginal Justice Camp: Two Commission representatives, as guests of the Calgary Police Service (CPS), attended an Aboriginal Justice Camp offered by the CPS for their members from September 6 to 9, 2014. This intensive program, led by Cindy Provost, CPS Aboriginal Liaison Officer, offered an experiential learning opportunity to deepen understanding about Aboriginal culture and history, and the impacts of the system barriers that members of the Aboriginal community face, the challenges this creates in building inclusive and healthy communities, and the possibilities for the future. Participation in the program is helping to increase Commission understanding and effectiveness in engaging in human rights issues related to Aboriginal communities. In addition to input provided directly by Aboriginal Elders, CPS leadership spoke about the need for respectful behaviours around diversity and the importance of inclusion.
  • Consultation with human rights and employment law lawyers: Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, hosted  two lunch meetings with the private bar in Calgary (September 9, 2014) and in Edmonton (September 11, 2014). Human rights and employment law lawyers provided valuable feedback on Commission process and also put forth possible strategies to encourage more timely resolution of complaints. Mr. Philp thanks all lawyers who attended for their time and thoughtful participation.
  • The Chief of the Commission and Tribunals also participated in other events: Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, had a number of speaking engagements in October and November: On October 27, 2014, he spoke to the Labour and Employment Law and the Administrative Law sections of the Canadian Bar Association, Alberta Branch, in Edmonton. Mr. Philp discussed what was new at the Commission, effective uses of the dispute resolution process, and promoting human rights in Alberta. On November 12, 2014, Mr. Philp spoke to students in a mentorship program at NorQuest College, and on November 13, 2014, he spoke to students at a University of Alberta law class. In addition, Mr. Philp participated in the Poverty Simulation presented by the Edmonton United Way at the Telus World of Science on November 13, 2014, and was asked to join the Mayor's Task Force on Poverty Elimination in Edmonton.
  • 6. Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund:

    Human rights and multiculturalism scholarship

    Students pursuing graduate studies in Canadian human rights or multiculturalism are invited to apply for the Alberta Award for the Study of Canadian Human Rights and Multiculturalism. This award encourages graduate studies that will create value for Albertans by promoting informed thinking about Canadian human rights, cultural diversity and multiculturalism. The award was made possible through the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund. There are two awards of $10,000 each-one for Master's level study and one for Doctoral level. The Master's level award honours Pardeep Gundara, one of Alberta's human rights champions, and is known as the Pardeep Singh Gundara Memorial Scholarship. The deadline for applications is February 1, 2015. Download the application form and read about past scholarship recipients.

    Recent scholarship recipients:  Kelsie Acton, a University of Alberta doctoral student, will examine how integrated dancers (dancers with and without disability who create together) understand disability and if the dancers' understandings are communicated to their audiences through dance. The research will also explore if integrated dance art changes the audience's misunderstanding of disability.

    Lianne Lee, a Master's student at the University of Calgary, will examine effective ways to improve social justice-based service-learning partnerships (a method of teaching that combines classroom instruction with meaningful community service). She will explore the perceived impact of this type of collaboration between faculties of education and community partners. Ms. Lee is the recipient of the 2014 Pardeep Singh Gundara Memorial Scholarship.

    PLEASE NOTE: In the following sections of the newsletter, we publish news and information provided by other organizations. We also link to other websites related to human rights and diversity. The Commission provides this information as a service and is not responsible for the content provided by other organizations on their websites or by other means. Please direct comments or inquiries regarding these organizations or their websites to the organization in question.


    Significant dates

    International Day of Persons with Disabilities:  The 2014 theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed on December 3, is Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology. From the UN website: "The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life."

    To coincide with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Statistics Canada released two fact sheets on learning and mental health-related disabilities:

    Statistics Canada also released the report Persons with disabilities and employment

    Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day: On November 25, 2014, a ceremony was held at the Alberta Legislature to commemorate the sixth anniversary of Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day in Alberta and to honour the contributions the Ukrainian community has made and continues to make in Alberta. Holodomor was a famine in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1932 to 1933, when millions of inhabitants died of starvation. On November 4, 2008, Bill 37, Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day Act, came into force, proclaiming every fourth Saturday in November a day of remembrance in Alberta. Bill 37 received the unanimous support of the Legislative Assembly.

      The Commission offers a flyer and poster called Celebrate All Year Round to remind Albertans of significant international, national and provincial days related to human rights and diversity. To order the flyer or poster, contact or call 403-297-8407 in Calgary. Call toll-free from Alberta locations outside Calgary by first dialing 310-0000 then entering the 10-digit number.

      See the complete list of significant days on the Commission website.

      International news

      1. 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child:
        November 20 marked the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention outlines the basic human rights to which children everywhere are entitled. From the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website: "November 1989 was historical in many ways, not least because it was the first time that children were recognised as rights holders in an international treaty. This marked the transition from addressing children's immediate needs through charity alone, to galvanising the move towards advocacy that would bring about systemic change for the realisation of children's rights." Canada's national "Child Day" is held annually on November 20, as enacted in Bill C-371, otherwise known as the Child Day Act, by the Parliament of Canada in 1993.


      1. Evaluation tool for measuring inclusion:
      The Welcoming and Inclusive Communities (WIC) initiative offers a new resource, Municipal Evaluation Tool: Measuring InclusionFrom the WIC website: "Many municipalities are investing time, money and creativity in making their community a more welcoming and inclusive place.... The goal of the evaluation tool is to give municipalities and communities a way to measure your current state, and to evaluate whether your actions are actually making an impact." 

      2. The Canadian Journal of Human Rights: The Robson Hall Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba offers the Canadian Journal of Human Rights (CJHR). From the CJHR website: "The CJHR is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal of law and policy with a national and international scope." You can view the current articles online.

      3. Aboriginal funding resource: The Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative released an updated version of Funders Resource Guide for Aboriginal Programs & Agencies. The updated version has been expanded to include a scholarships and bursaries section.


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      Our vision is a vibrant and inclusive Alberta where the rich diversity of people is celebrated and respected, and where everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in society, free from discrimination.