Alberta Human Rights Information Service February 16, 2016


Human rights case law: Court and tribunal decisions
Commission news
Publications and Resources


1. Important court decisions related to human rights:

First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada v. Attorney General of Canada (Representing the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada) 2016 CHRT 2
(Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, January 26, 2016)

The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada alleged Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), now known as Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), discriminated against First Nations people on reserves by failing to provide equitable funding for the provision of children and family services. AANDC oversaw, through provincial and territorial agreements, the delegation and allocation of monies to the First Nations Child and Family Services Program (the FNCFS Program). 

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal held that a prima facie case of discrimination had been established. The Tribunal stated that, "AANDC's design, management and control of the FNCFS Program, along with its corresponding funding formulas and the other related provincial/territorial agreements have resulted in denials of services and created various adverse  impacts for many First Nations children and families living on reserves." The Tribunal acknowledged the differing approaches to assessing comparisons: AANDC was concerned with comparable funding levels, while provincial/territorial child and family services were concerned with ensuring service levels required for sound social work practice.    The Tribunal held that substantive equality required that the unique needs of First Nations children and families living on reserve be recognized. Accordingly, the appropriate comparison should not be premised on comparing exact funding levels. Rather the comparison must be premised on the principle of the best interest of the child and focused on the services needed and provided, on and off reserve. 

The Tribunal ordered AANDC to "cease its discriminatory practices and reform the FNCFS Program and 1965 Agreement to reflect the findings in this decision ." The Tribunal indicated that it required further information from the parties regarding the actual relief sought including how short and long-term reforms could be implemented on a "practical, meaningful and effective basis." 

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta v. Mihaly, 2016 ABQB 61 (Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, January 26, 2016)


An earlier decision of the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal had held that requiring Mr. Ladislav Mihaly, a foreign-trained engineer, to pass certain examinations administered by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) constituted prima facie discrimination on the ground of place of origin and was not legally justified without further individualized assessment and accommodation, under human rights analysis. APEGA appealed the tribunal decision, and the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench overturned that decision holding:


[150]    While the Tribunal reasonably concluded that Mr. Mihaly had established prima facie discrimination with regard to APEGA's requirement that he complete confirmatory examinations or the FE Exam; his conclusion that APEGA failed to justify these requirements under section 11 of the AHRA was unreasonable.  APEGA's undisputed evidence clearly met the onus to establish the "reasonable and justifiable" defence:  Wright at paras 127-29.


The Court held that APEGA already undertook some individualized assessment of applicants and the Tribunal's expectations of what APEGA could do to accommodate Mr. Mihaly were unreasonable. The Court held that the accommodation and alternatives for assessment envisioned by the Tribunal would fundamentally change the regulatory mandate of APEGA. There was also no evidence that APEGA had the resources to undertake the scope of accommodation required by the Tribunal. 


2. The Commission recently released the following tribunal decisions:
  • Adam Quraishi v. Calgary Islamic School (January 20, 2016; Duncan Marsden, Tribunal Chair)
  • Kishor Lalwani v. ClaimsPro Inc. (January  14, 2016; Sharon Lindgren-Hewlett, Tribunal Chair)
  • White v. Lethbridge Soccer Association (Preliminary matters decision; January 12, 2016; William J. Johnson, Q.C., Tribunal Chair)
  • Warren Chugg v. Brooks Industrial Metals Ltd. (Preliminary matters decision regarding severance agreement; December 10, 2015; Joanne Archibald, Tribunal Chair)
  • Shafqat Ullah v. Hertz Young Motors (1971) Ltd. (December 1, 2015; William J. Johnson, Q.C., Tribunal Chair)
  • Liban Mohamud v. Canadian Dewatering (2006) Ltd. o/a Canadian Dewatering L.P. (September 24, 2015; Joanne Archibald, Tribunal Chair)
These tribunal decisions can be accessed free of charge through the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) website.

1. The Commission attended recent events:


  • Traditional Round Dance and Feast: Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, attended a Traditional Round Dance and Feast hosted by the Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative (CUAI) and Calgary Police Service on December 12, 2015. Mr. Philp congratulated CUAI staff and partners for their efforts in building strong relationships and creating positive change in Calgary
  • Dr. Cheryl Currie's presentation to Commission staff: On November 25, 2015, Dr. Cheryl Currie, Assistant Professor of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge, presented to Alberta Human Rights Commission staff on the health impacts of discrimination on the Aboriginal community. Her presentation focused on the impacts of racism on socio-economic, biological, emotional and behavioural health. 

    Dr. Currie's presentation supported the Commission's commitment to further strengthening its relationships with Alberta's indigenous peoples and communities and to using the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Calls to Action to inform its work.  
  • Saskatoon Anti-Racism Forum: Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, was invited to attend an anti-racism forum hosted by the City of Saskatoon's Cultural Diversity and Race Relations Committee on November 25, 2015. Mr. Philp discussed with participants the upstream, preventative work that can be done collectively with other organizations to reduce racism and discrimination in our communities.
  • Accommodating Pregnancy, Maternity and Parental Leave in the Workplace forum: Janice Ashcroft, Q.C., Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, Darrell Peterson (Edmonton) and Arnelda Devison (Calgary), both legal counsel from Enbridge Pipelines Inc., hosted the forum Accommodating Pregnancy, Maternity and Parental Leave in the Workplace. The forum was held on October 21, 2015 in Edmonton and November 18, 2015 in Calgary. You can read more about the forum on the Commission Events page.
  • Prospect DEAM Event: On October 28, 2015, Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, participated in an event highlighting Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) in Calgary. Prospect Human Services brought together more than 100 participants from 13 companies to paint 192 canvases for DEAM, where they brought to life a 15' x 5' mural "In a DEAM World." 

    Mr. Philp brought remarks on behalf of the Commission, congratulating Prospect for highlighting the need for employers to create respectful, diverse and inclusive workplaces. The event was an excellent example of how employers are collaborating with diverse groups to break down attitudinal barriers and other obstacles that can prevent persons with disabilities from full workforce participation.

    Prospect was a recipient of the 2015 Diversity Leadership Award of Distinction, where they were recognized for embracing diversity in the workforce, encouraging respect and inclusion, and working toward eliminating discrimination and barriers to fair employment practices.

    Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, posing with the "In a DEAM World" mural at the Prospect DEAM event.


2. Upcoming Commission events: The Commission is offering various upcoming webinars, forums and public workshops:


  • Webinar series: Understanding and Preventing Harassment in the Workplace 
    The following free webinars are offered:

    Webinar 1: Roles and Responsibilities of Organizations
    April 13, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. MDT
    You can read more and register online for this free webinar.

    Webinar 2: I am Being Harassed or Witnessing Harassment. What Can I do?
    Date: April 27, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. MDT
    You can read more and register online for this free webinar.
  • Human Rights in Employment Forums: Two breakfast forums on Preventing Harassment/Bullying in the Workplace are offered by the Commission. The Edmonton forum is scheduled for May 31, 2016 and the Calgary forum is scheduled for June 22, 2016. You can read more about the forums and learn how to register.
  • Human Rights in the Workplace public workshops: The Commission is also offering two upcoming Human Rights in the Workplace public workshops on May 4, 2016 in Edmonton and June 1, 2016 in Calgary. You can read more about the public workshops and learn how to register.  
3. Law student internship program: The Commission welcomes two interns, Filippo Titi and Mia Reimers, who are third-year law students in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Law as part of a new Law Student Internship Program launched by the Commission. They will be participating in the program during the winter semester.


4. Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund:

The Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund supports community projects that foster equality and reduce discrimination. 
Human Rights Project grants: Non-profit organizations and public institutions are eligible to apply for these grants. This is an outcome-based grant that seeks to address issues of inequality or discrimination. The next deadline for this grant is May 1, 2016. You can read more about the Human Rights Project grants.



Experience Human Rights: Registered non-profit organizations that are planning a one or two-day human rights initiative may be eligible to receive up to $1,000 to support projects that build greater involvement in human rights or raise awareness of the issue. The deadline for this grant is May 1, 2016. You can read more about Experience Human Rights grants.
Recently completed projects that were supported by the Fund:


  • The Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA) has been working with their member settlement agencies to develop resources that can be used by settlement practitioners to identify and address issues of racism and discrimination experienced by their newcomer clients. AAISA has posted 139 resources related to culture, multiculturalism, diversity, justice, anti-racism and education to their Human Rights and Advocacy resource page. One of the roles AAISA plays is to provide professional development and certification for settlement practitioners. At their Learning Community page, you can follow a discussion related to the practitioner training in multiculturalism, human rights and anti-racism. This organization is open to any non-profit organization working with newcomers.
  • The Calgary Jewish Federation recently completed the Through Their Eyes - The 2nd Generation Project. Descendants of Holocaust survivors learned skills that enabled them to share experiences of their parents or grandparents. Their multi-media presentations record the history of the Holocaust through the stories of their families. These presentations teach about of the effects of bullying, discrimination, racism and genocide on their family members and the importance of addressing hate and intolerance. 


Human rights and multiculturalism scholarship


Two graduate students from the University of Calgary have received the Alberta Award for the Study of Canadian Human Rights and Multiculturalism. This award encourages graduate studies that explore and support human rights or multiculturalism matters for Albertans. These awards were made possible through the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund. The Doctoral award is $15,000 and the Master's award is $10,000. Read more about the award on the Alberta Learning Information Service Student Aid website

2015 Recipients:
Sherri Tanchak's doctoral research will focus on the recovery experiences of social workers who have endured workplace bullying in their professional employment. Her study will include an exploration of how societal beliefs about gender have influenced the onset and maintenance of workplace bullying in human service organizations. The findings will inform clinical interventions, social work professional policies and social work education and training.   

Christa Sato will examine the pathways that enable underrepresented learners within an identified cohort to successfully complete university. Her master's research will focus on second-generation immigrant university learners in Alberta. This study will increase understanding that supports removal of barriers that limit participation and completion in advanced learning. Ms. Sato is the recipient of the Pardeep Singh Gundara Memorial Scholarship.  

5. Commission staff member receives award: On December 13, 2015, Mr. Nicholas Ameyaw, Senior Consultant, Education and Engagement, Alberta Human Rights Commission, was awarded the Randy Palivoda Public Service Award at the 9th Annual Human Rights Awards ceremony hosted by the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights. From the John Humphrey Centre website: The Randy Palivoda Public Service Award is "for an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to and has demonstrated excellence in the protection and promotion of human rights in his/her role as a public servant." 


1. New resource to assist school boards in drafting policies to support welcoming, caring, respectful and safe schools:
Alberta Education created a document called Guidelines for Best Practices: Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Expressions and Gender Identities to assist school authorities when addressing the needs of individuals with diverse sexual orientations, gender expressions and gender identities. You can read the Government of Alberta news release.

2. Making workplaces accessible to people with disabilities: The Conference Board of Canada offers the Employers' Toolkit: Making Ontario Workplaces Accessible to People with Disabilities, 2nd Edition. From the website: "This fully accessible toolkit was created to help Ontario employers tap into a vibrant and underutilized labour pool-people with disabilities-and to assist employers in meeting the Employment Standard of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act."

3. Indigenous Kids Rights Path website launched: First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada (FNCFCS) launched a new website, Indigenous Kids Rights Path, in honour of Universal Children's Day. From the FNCFCS Winter 2015 newsletter: "This website provides resources, and links to help, for First Nations children and youth on and off reserve and other Indigenous young people if they feel their rights are not being respected."

4. Guide for municipalities: advancing gender equality, equity and inclusion: The City for All Women Initiative (CAWI), in partnership with five Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD) members, including the City of Lethbridge, created the guide, Advancing Equity and Inclusion: A Guide for Municipalities. From the CAWI website: "CAWI has worked with partners-municipalities, women's organizations, academics, local and national organizations-from across the country to advance gender equality, equity, and inclusion in the creation of this guide."

5. Human rights education indicator framework: HRE 2020: Global Coalition for Human Rights Education released its first publication, Human Rights Education Indicator Framework: Key indicators to monitor and assess the implementation of human rights education and training. From the HRE 2020 website: "This resource is a suggested framework of indicators, or measurements, to examine the presence and quality of human rights education policies and practices."

6. Women, Business and the Law: The World Bank released the report, Women, Business and the Law 2016. From the World Bank news release: "Legal barriers to the economic advancement of women are widespread, shutting them out of certain jobs, limiting their access to credit, and leaving them unprotected against violence in many economies around the world, says the World Bank Group's Women, Business and the Law 2016 report, released today."


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