Dec. 8, 2008
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The 2007-08 annual report of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission was released today, along with a series of recommendations to government to ensure that the commission can better achieve its mandate and goals.
"The commission plays a very important role for New Brunswickers in ensuring that their rights are respected and that they can live, learn and work free from discrimination," said Gordon L. Porter, commission chair.
In 2007-08, the commission placed increased emphasis on its educational mandate to promote equality and avoid discrimination.
"I am particularly proud of our new guideline on accommodating students with a disability, from kindergarten to Grade 12," said Porter. "We hope that this guideline will help educators and parents to avoid disputes about accommodation and lead to reasonable resolutions of any problems that may arise."
The commission received 197 formal complaints in 2007-08 and closed 167. The most common grounds of discrimination were physical and mental disability, which amounted to 56 per cent of all complaints. Staff settled 25 cases before complaints were filed,
"These pre-complaint interventions were crucial in allowing complainants to regain their job before a replacement was hired, or to retain their apartment before it was let out to someone else," said Porter.
The commission has two mandates under the Human Rights Act: to promote human rights; and to deal with complaints of discrimination. Complaints may be filed under one or more of 14 grounds of prohibited discrimination: race; colour; national origin; place of origin; ancestry; religion; age; marital status; sex; sexual orientation; physical or mental disability; social condition, which includes source of income, level of education and occupation; and political belief or activity.
"As our province moves to attract and retain immigrants, as our businesses seek skilled employees, and as we witness tragic human rights abuses in several parts of the world, we cannot help but recognize the central place that human rights values have in the lives of New Brunswickers," said Porter. "Equality of opportunity, appreciation of diversity, accommodation of differences and respect for everyone are priceless human rights values, and we will do our utmost to promote and defend them."
For more information on the commission, visit www.gnb.ca/hrc-cdp. Printed copies of the 2007-08 annual report may be obtained by calling 1-888-471-2233. Electronic copies are available at www.gnb.ca/hrc-cdp/10-e.asp.
MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Joubert, Communications New Brunswick, 506-444-3207.