New Brunswick Human Rights Commission

Commission releases recommendations for amendments to Human Rights Act (08/12/08)

NB 1782

Dec. 8, 2008

FREDERICTON (CNB) - A number of key recommendations to update the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Act were released today by the commission.

The recommendations relate to the commission's perceived independence and impartiality, including the need for adequate funding; reporting directly to the legislature for its budget; and the removal of ministerial discretion in the appointment of a human rights board of inquiry.

"Because of the specialized nature of human rights law and its quasi-constitutional status, we have recommended that two vice-chairpersons with human rights expertise be appointed to hear human rights cases at the labour and employment board," said Gordon L. Porter, commission chair. "We are also recommending that the exception that allows mandatory retirement for employees who receive pensions from their employers be repealed. Mandatory retirement is age discrimination, and it has been abolished in nearly every jurisdiction in Canada."

The report also makes recommendations about the appointment of commission members in order to attract well-qualified members from diverse backgrounds.

Porter said that the per diems paid to members have not changed in 20 years and do not reflect the work and responsibility of the commission members.

"To help us clear human rights complaints as quickly and efficiently as possible, and to enable us to do the educational work key to preventing discrimination in the first place, we are asking the province to provide us with additional resources so that we can provide New Brunswickers with better and faster results," said Porter. "One of our priorities is to hire two officers for northern New Brunswick, where we currently have no staff.

"As chair of the commission, I know the importance of human rights in the lives of New Brunswickers. Equality of opportunity, appreciation of diversity, accommodation of differences and respect for all people are human rights values that we cherish. With the government's help, we will do our utmost to promote and defend these rights."

More information about the commission's recommendations may be found in the Future Directions report at www.gnb.ca/hrc-cdp.

08/12/08

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Joubert, Communications New Brunswick, 506-444-3207.

08/12/08