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SECTION I – OVERVIEW

Chief Commissioner’s Message

In 2006-07, the Commission completed the implementation of its new service delivery model and demonstrated that the model is working. The three business lines within the model are dispute resolution, discrimination prevention and knowledge development. The Commission supports its service delivery with sound management and accountability.

The new Employer Advisory Council successfully established itself as a collaborative and productive network. Council members share best practices, explore approaches to mutual challenges, and provide the Commission with feedback for continuous process improvement.

The Employment Equity Compliance Program streamlined its audit process. The Program supports the Commission's statutory mandate of improved representation of designated groups in the workforce by informing and supporting employers on meeting their obligations under the Employment Equity Act, and by increasing the number of completed audits for all sizes of employers.

The new Knowledge Centre provided policy advice, published a practical guide for employers on how to manage an employee's return to work after an extended leave, and completed research on human rights issues that have been identified by post 9-11 national security concerns.

Increased emphasis on early dispute resolution through mediation and informal dialogue better serves those who contact the Commission about possible discrimination. Positive impacts for everyone affected include savings in time and money, reduced emotional distress, strengthened morale and increased productivity. Overall, client satisfaction with the Commission’s services improves.

The Commission continued to advance human rights law for all Canadians by participating in significant human rights cases before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and other courts and Tribunals.

The extension of full human rights protection for Aboriginal people is a fundamental commitment. Section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act withholds some of those rights. The Commission actively advocates its repeal and continues to work closely with stakeholders to build consensus on this issue.

Internationally, the Commission earned a prestigious position – Chair of the United Nations International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. This role increases the Commission's contributions and influence in building stronger human rights institutions in other countries and contributing significantly to the new Human Rights Council and its mechanisms.

The Commission supports the integration of human rights in daily practice so that all individuals can make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have. To achieve this, the Commission will continue to provide effective options for individuals to raise their concerns and have them addressed, and to enhance respect for human rights through communication, knowledge development and education.

 

 


Jennifer Lynch, Q.C.
Chief Commissioner


Management Representation Statement

I submit, for tabling in Parliament, the 2006-2007 Departmental Performance Report for the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in the Guide for the Preparation of Part III of the 2006-2007 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the Treasury Board Secretariat guidance;
  • It is based on the department’s approved Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture that were approved by the Treasury Board;
  • It presents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information;
  • It provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to it; and
  • It reports finances based on approved numbers from the Estimates and the Public Accounts of Canada.

 

 


Hlne Goulet
Secretary General


Summary Information


The Canadian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) was established in 1977 to administer the Canadian Human Rights Act. The purpose of the Act is to promote equality of opportunity and to protect individuals from discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability, or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.

The Commission also has a mandate under the Employment Equity Act, which seeks to achieve equality in the workplace and to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities. Both the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Employment Equity Act apply to federal departments and agencies, Crown corporations and federally regulated private sector organizations.

As of March 31, 2007, the Commission consisted of a Chief Commissioner, one full-time member and three part-time members. Full-time members are appointed for terms not exceeding seven years and part-time members for terms not exceeding three years. The Chief Commissioner is responsible for the operations of the Commission, supported by the Secretary General.


Financial Resources ($ thousands)


Planned Spending
Total Authorities
Actual Spending
$20,965
$22,121
$21,129

Human Resources in Full-time Equivalents (FTEs)


Planned
Actual
Difference
196
180
16

 


Departmental Priorities
  2006-2007
Status on Performance Planned Spending
($000)
Actual Spending
($000)
Strategic Outcome: Equality, respect for human rights and protection from discrimination by fostering understanding of, and compliance with, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Employment Equity Act.
Alignment with Government of Canada Outcomes: The Commission’s strategic outcome aligns to the Government of Canada’s strategic outcome of creating “an inclusive society that promotes linguistic duality and diversity.”
Priority (type) Program Activity – Expected Result Performance Status Planned Spending Actual Spending
Design and implement a human rights knowledge development program
(previously committed)
Foster understanding of and compliance with the Canadian Human Rights Act. – Increased compliance with the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Employment equity audits in federal and federally regulated workplaces.
- A workforce more representative of the four groups designated under the Employment Equity Act.

Successfully met 3,458 2,917
Enhance and expand the prevention program to include more employers/service providers and other stakeholders
(ongoing)
Foster understanding of, and compliance with, the Canadian Human Rights Act
- Increased compliance with the Canadian Human Rights Act

Employment equity audits in federal and federally regulated workplaces.
- A workforce more representative of the four groups designated under the Employment Equity Act.

Successfully met 3,263 3,567
Continue to provide an effective dispute resolution process (ongoing) Foster understanding of, and compliance with, the Canadian Human Rights Act
- Increased compliance with the Canadian Human Rights Act
Successfully met 7,472 7,647
Improve the integration of employment equity audits into other prevention initiatives (ongoing) Employment equity audits in federal and federally regulated workplaces - A workforce more representative of the four groups designated under the Employment Equity Act. Successfully met 2,098 1,942



Overall Departmental Performance

OPERATING ENVIRONMENT

The creation of an inclusive society that promotes diversity and respects human rights is the ultimate goal of the Commission. Our new service delivery model of knowledge development, discrimination prevention and dispute resolution is aimed at distributing the available resources in the most effective way among the different stages of the human rights management continuum. The Commission acknowledges many other redress mechanisms and arbiters of disputes. In order to achieve its goal, the Commission values and nurtures its relationship with employers to help strengthen their policies and procedures to respect and promote human rights in the workplace.

The most commonly cited ground for complaints accepted by the Commission currently is disability. The Commission responds through its prevention activities, including an Employer Advisory Council subcommittee on disabilities; its research activities, which include environmental sensitivities and managing the return to work of employees after an extended absence; and dispute resolution, which provides various dispute resolution mechanisms to deal with disputes when they arise.

ORGANIZATIONAL CONTEXT

2006-07 marks further change, gains and consolidation for the Commission.

The Knowledge Centre has been in full operation for a year. Shifting more resources to this area allows the Commission to enhance its policy development capacity, to reach out to, and work with, the research community in Canada to explore challenging human rights issues facing Canadian society, and to embark on strategic initiatives that address human rights gaps. A major development is the increased focus on Aboriginal human rights, through the creation of a National Aboriginal Initiative based in Winnipeg. One of the initiative’s priorities is to respond to the challenge of the anticipated repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The Discrimination Prevention Branch has begun to implement its new streamlined employment equity audit process which is expected to simplify the process. Both the Prevention Initiatives and Liaison Program and the Employment Equity Compliance Program now include staff in regional offices, reinforcing the national focus on discrimination prevention.

The Dispute Resolution Branch continues to explore innovative approaches to resolve disputes more quickly to promote healthy workplaces and respect for human rights. The creation of a new unit that combines intake and alternative dispute resolution services allows for less formal approaches to resolving disputes. The Commission also allocates resources to litigation for disputes that cannot be resolved without going to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. The Commission’s focus on litigation is on matters having the greatest human rights impact.

Significant personnel changes occurred this past year at all levels at the Commission due to two key factors: the need to continuously renew its highly specialized knowledge-based workforce in an aging and competitive market, and the Commission’s transition to a new organizational structure. Corollary challenges include managing knowledge transfer and operational continuity. Opportunities include increased motivation and modernization as new employees arrive with new ideas and approaches.

The Commission is committed to sound management in all aspects of its work, particularly with respect to the management of human and financial resources. The Commission has developed a set of reports or “dashboards” of operational performance to provide an early warning system of potential problems and facilitate the development of timely corrective measures when needed.

THE COMMISSION’S WORK AND CANADA’S PERFORMANCE

The Commission’s strategic outcome of “Equality, respect for human rights and protection from discrimination by fostering understanding of, and compliance with, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Employment Equity Act” closely aligns with the Government of Canada’s strategic outcome of “creating an inclusive society that promotes linguistic duality and diversity.” The Commission’s activities foster society’s understanding of, and commitment toward, these outcomes.

The Government of Canada’s indicators to measure the level of performance of the “inclusive society” outcome include: attitudes toward diversity, discrimination and racism, same-sex marriages, and mixed (interracial) unions. The Commission’s work includes increasing performance against these indicators.

The following sections focus on the specific priorities outlined in the 2006–2007 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the period under review:


PRIORITY 1

Design and implement a human rights knowledge development program


In November 2005, in response to a commitment to design and implement a human rights knowledge development program, the Commission created a Knowledge Centre responsible for research, strategic initiatives and policy development. The Knowledge Centre is also responsible for managing regulatory affairs, including the development of regulations and guidelines. It provides strategic proactive legal advice and studies systemic issues related to human rights matters.

The 2006–2007 fiscal year was the first full year of operations for the Knowledge Centre.

In fulfilment of its commitment in the 2006–2007 RPP, the Commission completed the design of its human rights knowledge development program. It implemented a National Aboriginal Initiative, in part in anticipation of the potential repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act; integrated the Strategic Initiatives Division allowing the Knowledge Centre to translate new knowledge into strategic projects designed to advance human rights protection; and ensured that all complaint processing teams had ongoing support from legal and/or policy advisors.

In 2006–2007, the Knowledge Centre initiated several new projects and completed projects started in the previous year. Projects included the development of a legislative approach to the repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act; the development and publication of a user-friendly guide for employers to manage the return to work of employees after an extended period on leave; and the publication of No Alternative – A Review of the Government of Canada’s Provision of Alternative Text Formats, which led to the development of a corrective action plan by the Government of Canada.

 

PRIORITY 2

Enhance and expand the prevention program to include more employers/service providers and other stakeholders


In its efforts to increase respect for human rights in workplaces and service delivery areas, the Commission has signed several agreements with major employers. These agreements focus on activities aimed at preventing discrimination in the workplace. In addition to the 10 federally regulated employers that have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the Commission has added three more signatories, raising the total to 13 agreements. The Commission has established an Employer Advisory Council (EAC) to provide a forum for raising, discussing and acting on issues related to preventing discrimination in workplaces and service centres across the country and for sharing of information and best practices. This Council has the strong support of its members and has already provided benefits to lead improvements in workplace cultures that enhance respect for human rights.


PRIORITY 3

Continue to provide an effective dispute resolution process


The Commission committed to:

  • focus on the earliest stages of disputes to help parties address incidents of discrimination, using the most appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms;
  • enhance the effectiveness of investigations by clarifying key human rights issues, legal principles and other factors the Commission may consider relevant in rendering decisions; and
  • continue to implement a litigation strategy that targets the Commission’s litigation resources on those cases with the greatest impact on human rights.

The Commission continued its shift toward focus on the earliest stages of the dispute resolution process by combining its intake and alternative dispute resolution services to create a new unit, with a mandate to encourage less formal approaches to resolving disputes. The new model was launched on April 1, 2007, and early results are very promising.

Preliminary assessment was integrated into the Investigations Division and the new investigation report format was fully implemented. The new report format provides the parties and Commissioners with a product that focuses on the legal principles relevant to the case and information on remedies, efforts of the parties to resolve the dispute, as well as how the case serves the public interest.

The Commission’s successful litigation strategy continued to foster positive results for the Canadian public in 2006–2007. By focusing its litigation resources on cases with the highest human rights impact, the Commission has influenced the outcome in a number of significant Tribunal and court cases which have advanced human rights law for all Canadians. A description of these decisions can be found in Section II of this report.

The average age of active cases dealt with by the Commission continued to decline, and is now 8.9 months. Moreover, 69% of our caseload is less than one year old and only 5% of cases are two years old or older.


PRIORITY 4

Improve the integration of employment equity audits into other prevention initiatives


In 2006–2007, the Commission developed and started using a new streamlined audit process that focuses on achieving better results toward equality in the workplace. Audit tools were redesigned to facilitate the auditing process for employers. The changes to the audit process will further support discrimination prevention by placing a greater emphasis on demonstrating progress toward a more representative workforce.

The Commission is building on its audit program by providing employers with prevention tools, best practices and information for the continuous improvement of the human rights culture in the workplace.

The new audit approach and its integration into the Discrimination Prevention Branch should contribute to greater representation of the four workforce groups designated in the Employment Equity Act. The Commission is participating in the five-year review process on the effectiveness of the Employment Equity Act, being conducted by a parliamentary committee. To prepare for this review, the Commission coordinated a number of consultation sessions with stakeholders, including employer associations, union representatives and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Commission’s communication outreach strategy includes providing information to employers about the Act’s requirements. The Commission’s website now has online tools for employers to conduct a self-assessment of their compliance status. This approach encourages employers to identify problems and propose solutions before an audit begins.