Human rights & employment standards in Canada

As a Canadian, your human rights are protected by federal, provincial and territorial laws.

Human rights describe how we instinctively expect to be treated as persons.  Human rights define what we are all entitled to – a life of equality, dignity, respect, and a life free from discrimination. You do not have to earn your human rights. You are born with them. They are the same for every person.  Nobody can give them to you. But they can be taken away.” Canadian Human Rights Commission

Human rights laws are in place to protect against discrimination in protected areas such as gender, citizenship, age, place of origin and disability, as well as protections in services, facilities housing and employment.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Canada, the following are some examples of discriminatory acts that could be accepted as a discrimination complaint.

  • If you go to a federally regulated organization and you are denied goods, services, facilities or accommodation.
  • If you are provided with goods, services, facilities or accommodation in a way that treats you differently and adversely.
  • If you are refused employment or you are fired from your job or are being treated unfairly in the workplace in a discriminatory fashion.
  • If the company or organization is following policies or practices that deprive people of employment opportunities.
  • If you are a woman and are being paid differently when you are doing work of the same value.
  • If you have been the victim of retaliation because you have filed a complaint with the Commission or because you have helped someone else file a complaint.
  • If you have been the victim of harassment.

It must be noted that not every situation where you think you have been treated unfairly is considered a human rights violation. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has a detailed Frequently Asked Question page, which can be helpful in determining what would fall under a human rights violation and the process for lodging a complaint.

Provincial and territorial human rights

Provincial and territorial human rights laws share many similarities with the Canadian Human Rights Act and apply many of the same principles. They protect people from discrimination in areas such as restaurants, stores, schools, housing and most workplaces. If you are not working in or accessing services from the federal government, First Nations governments or private companies that are regulated by the federal government, these laws will apply.

Use this template for tracking advocacy calls.

The following list of provincial and territorial human rights contacts can give you more information for your region: