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SECTION I – OVERVIEW

Chief Commissioner's Message

The Commission is responsible for the administration of both the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Employment Equity Act, which apply the principles of equal opportunity and non-discrimination to federally regulated organizations. The Commission’s founding legislation inspires a vision for Canada in which “all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have,” free from discrimination.

Responsiveness and renewal characterize the Commission’s work this year. A strategic alignment initiative was launched to enable the Commission to more clearly identify and focus on priorities, to rationalize programs, and to explore opportunities for internal reinvestment. This generated new approaches to address increasingly complex issues with limited resources, and has strengthened the Commission’s ability to calibrate its capacity with expected results.

The Human Rights Maturity Model is an innovative roadmap and performance measurement framework for employers, service providers, bargaining agents and employees, developed in extensive consultation with partner organizations. It provides organizations with the tools to create self-sustaining human rights cultures in their workplaces. A new results and risk-based approach to employment equity audit reports will complement the Maturity Model. The Discrimination Prevention Branch will begin pilot testing the Maturity Model in the upcoming year.

This year, work continued to implement legislative changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act that broaden the Commission’s mandate to include First Nations and their members, and matters covered by the Indian Act. These important changes will take full effect in June 2011. Through the National Aboriginal Initiative, the Commission increased awareness of the Acts and continues to build capacity among Aboriginal peoples. The Human Rights Knowledge Development and Dissemination Program also focussed on increasing awareness of human rights principles and their application in the context of national security, and informing the public debate regarding hate on the Internet.

The Dispute Resolution Program experienced a marked increase in the number of cases it was managing. Progress toward expected results was maintained. The Commission is researching the reasons for the increase in complaints, and reviewing its practices to ensure cases can continue to be addressed in a timely and effective way.

This year the Commission successfully concluded its three year term as Chair of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions, and began its two year term as Chair of the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions.

The Commission has demonstrated its responsiveness and ability to renew ideas and approaches to meet the evolving needs of Canadians. This year, the assessment of the Commission through the Management Accountability Framework particularly noted its strong organizational culture of mutual respect, integrity and professionalism.

The Commission was able to achieve this progress thanks to the support of many partners and stakeholders, the leadership of the Commissioners, and the dedication and hard work of Commission staff. Working together with perseverance and commitment to equality, respect, dignity and fairness, we are drawing closer to the vision articulated in the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Jennifer Lynch, Q.C.
Chief Commissioner


COMMISSION OVERVIEW

1.1 Summary Information

Raison d’tre

The Canadian Human Rights Commission’s founding legislation inspires a vision for Canada in which “all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have, ” free from discrimination.

The Commission leads the administration of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and ensures compliance with the Employment Equity Act (EEA). The CHRA prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted. The EEA promotes equality in the workplace for four designated groups: women, Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities.

Both laws apply the principles of equal opportunity and non-discrimination to federal government departments and agencies, Crown corporations and federally regulated private sector organizations. The provinces and territories have laws similar to the CHRA that address discrimination.

Responsibilities

The Commission’s service delivery model provides discrimination prevention initiatives; modern dispute resolution to address inquiries and complaints; and regulatory, policy, and knowledge development. It works with employers, service providers, individuals, unions, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and provincial/territorial and international human rights bodies to foster understanding and commitment to achieving a society where human rights are respected in everyday practice.

The Commission is responsible for developing and conducting information programs to foster public understanding of the CHRA and of the role and activities of the Commission. The Commission also undertakes and sponsors research programs relating to its duties and functions under the CHRA.

The Commission's mandate includes receiving and processing human rights complaints. Throughout this process, the Commission encourages settlements by providing opportunities for dialogue and mediation. Under the EEA, the Commission audits federally regulated employers to ensure that they are providing equal opportunities for employment.

 

Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture

Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture

[Text version]

 

1.2 Summary of Performance

2009-2010 Financial Resources ($ thousands)
Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
20,651 23,673 22,629

 

2009-2010 Human Resources (FTEs)
Planned Actual Difference
190 186 4

 

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 by federally regulated employers and service providers, as well as the public they serve.
Performance Indicators Targets 2008-09 Performance
By 2011, the percentage of public service employees who indicated they were not a victim of discrimination on the job. 84 percent In the 2008 Public Service Employee Survey, 82 percent of public service employees reported that they have not been victims of discrimination on the job. The Commission will continue to work with the public service to achieve the 2011 target reduction in discriminatory behaviours by providing employers with a way of assessing the state of their human rights culture and tracking their progress.

 

($ thousands)
Program Activity 2008-09
Actual
Spending
2009-10 Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
Main
Estimates
Planned
Spending
Total
Authorities
Actual
Spending
Human Rights Knowledge Development
and Dissemination Program
3,505 2,725 2,725 3,697 3,442 A diverse society that promotes
linguistic duality and social inclusion
Discrimination Prevention Program 4,616 4,721 4,721 4,510 4,475 A diverse society that promotes
linguistic duality and social inclusion
Human Rights Dispute Resolution
Program
8,543 8,125 8,125 9,155 8,555 A diverse society that promotes
linguistic duality and social inclusion
Internal Services 5,705 5,080 5,080 6,311 6,157  
Total 22,369 20,651 20,651 23,673 22,629  

 

The 2009-10 Total Authorities represent an increase of approximately $3.0 million or 14.6 percent over the 2009-10 Main Estimates of $20.7 million. This difference represents funding received through the Supplementary Estimates for the repeal of section 67 of the CHRA, the 2008-09 operating budget carry forward, the reimbursement of eligible pay list expenditures for severance pay and parental benefits and the salary increases resulting from the signed collective bargaining agreements.

Contribution of Priorities to Strategic Outcome

Operational Priorities Type Status Linkages to Strategic Outcome
Increased awareness of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and the Employment Equity Act (EEA) among Aboriginal peoples New Met All – A first step toward building capacity and readiness for the full implementation of the repeal is to raise awareness about the CHRA and the EEA among Aboriginal people. The Commission contributed to increasing awareness by working in three areas:

Increased use of Commission materials developed for First Nations and other Aboriginal audiences. In 2009-10, more than 6,200 publications were distributed at events held by Aboriginal organizations such as regional dialogues, annual meetings, and other learning events. In addition, the number of website visits to the Commission’s National Aboriginal Initiative page increased from 7,481 in 2008-09 to 10,164 in 2009-10.

Increased First Nations investment in learning to prevent discrimination evidenced by a significant increase in the number of invitations for Commission speakers on human rights issues. The Commission participated in over 50 events organized by Aboriginal organizations in 2009-10, exceeding the initial estimate of 10 regional events. For example:

  • Three plenary meetings were held with national Aboriginal organizations whose members are particularly affected by changes to the CHRA.
  • Commission representatives participated as panellists at several national conferences dealing with Aboriginal issues, including the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Annual General Assembly in July 2009, the AFN Chiefs in Assembly meeting in December 2009, and the AFN Policy and Planning Conference in March 2010.
  • Three national Aboriginal organizations undertook their own human rights initiatives in 2010, including two series of cross-country regional dialogues held by the Assembly of First Nations and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. Commission representatives attended the events as speakers or provided content expertise.
  • Numerous Aboriginal organizations have included references to human rights or reference human rights cases on their websites.

Increased understanding of, and ability to explain, the Commission’s complaint process by staff and leaders of national and regional Aboriginal organizations as evidenced by the results of a national telephone survey conducted by the Commission of representative First Nation and other Aboriginal organizations. This survey concluded that the average self-reported level of awareness of the CHRA was 2.9 out of 5. Participants’ average response to whether they would be comfortable explaining the CHRA was only 2.4 out of 5, demonstrating the need to develop clear language tools to convey this information. This was the first survey of its kind to be undertaken by the Commission. Its response rate of 85% allowed the Commission to establish a benchmark to assess progress in raising awareness next year.

Equality, respect for human rights and protection from discrimination - Following many years of debate, the section of the CHRA that denied Aboriginal peoples full access to human rights law was repealed in June 2008 to be fully implemented by June 2011. The repeal is a milestone in the development of human rights law in Canada.
Management Priorities Type Status Linkages to Strategic Outcome
A strengthened Management Framework Ongoing Met All – Guided by its multi-year Management Accountability Framework (MAF) action plan, the Commission successfully strengthened its management framework. This is evidenced by the ratings received in its 2009 MAF assessment where the TBS observations of the Commission’s management capacity were positive. The Commission improved its rating on 57% of the lines of evidence assessed (12 improvements of 21 assessments), while 33% of the ratings remained the same. As planned, the Commission retained a strong rating on an organizational culture of mutual respect, integrity and professionalism. Equality, respect for human rights and protection from discrimination

 


Risk Analysis

The Commission identified three risk factors that had the potential to impact its priorities, plans and performance. These, and other risks pertaining to the delivery of the Commission’s program activities, were monitored, assessed and managed at the executive level over the course of the fiscal year.

1. Risk that the Commission will be unable to fulfill its mandate with current resources.

Additional concurrent demands on the Commission’s resources influenced this risk. Primary factors were the legislative changes to the CHRA that broadened the Commission’s mandate, allowing First Nations and their members to file complaints on matters covered by the Indian Act; and the increasingly complex human rights issues handled by the Commission. These complaints required extensive legal and policy analysis.

To mitigate this risk, the Commission carried out a Strategic Alignment Initiative to better calibrate the Commission’s capacity with its expected results. One of the critical pieces was a review of the Commission’s service delivery model. The outcome of this review was the consolidation of the Commission’s operations, a streamlining of management structure, and closure of our offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax.

2. Risk that the demand and heightened expectations associated with the repeal of section 67 of the CHRA will be greater than the Commission’s mandate and/or access to resources.

To mitigate this risk, the Commission, in conjunction with the Department of Justice Canada, completed a Treasury Board submission in early 2009. New funds were released in June 2009.

In addition, the demand for dialogue sessions, presentations, and training was considerably higher than anticipated, and the Commission accepted more than 50 such requests. The Commission responded by leveraging efforts, specifically logistical support, with hosting and partner organizations, and through internal re-allocations.

3. Risk that the mandate of the Commission is not well understood.

If Canadians do not understand what the Commission can—and cannot—do, there is a risk that they will either not seek our services when appropriate, or that they will come to us with unrealistic expectations about our ability to assist them. There is a growing need to enhance public awareness and understanding about human rights. For these reasons, each of the Commission’s program activities contains an aspect to promote prevention and ensure that workplaces are free from discrimination. Details are provided under Section II of this performance report.

Expenditure Profile

Expenditure Profile

[Text version]

 

The increase of $1.5 million in 2007-08 and $2.3 million in 2008-09 between Main Estimates and Total Authorities were mainly due to temporary funding received for the following reasons:

  • An operating budget carry forward ($0.9 million in 2007-08 and $0.5 million in 2008-09);
  • A reimbursement of eligible pay list expenditures for severance pay and parental benefits ($0.5 million in 2007-08 and $0.5 million in 2008-09); and
  • Salary increases resulting from the signed collective bargaining agreements ($0.1 million in 2007-08 and $1.3 million in 2008-09).

For 2009-10, the increase of $3.0 million between Main Estimates and Total Authorities was mainly due to temporary funding received for the following reasons:

  • $0.7 million for the repeal of section 67 of the CHRA;
  • $0.4 million for the operating budget carry forward;
  • $0.5 million for reimbursement of eligible pay list expenditures for severance pay and parental benefits; and
  • $0.9 million for the salary increases resulting from the signed collective bargaining agreements.

As indicated in the 2007-08 Report on Plans and Priorities, the Planned Spending included an amount of $2.2 million ($0.6 million in 2008-09) for funding related to the repeal of section 67 of the CHRA. This funding was not received in 2007-08 and in 2008-09. The funding was received in mid 2009-10 explaining the difference between Total Authorities and Actual Spending in 2009-10.

Voted and Statutory Items
($ thousands)
Vote # or Statutory Item (S) Truncated Vote or Statutory Wording 2007-08
Actual
Spending
2008-09
Actual
Spending
2009-10
Main
Estimates
2009-10
Actual
Spending
10 Program expenditures 19,706 19,963 18,478 19,945
(S) Contributions to employee benefit plans 2,287 2,406 2,173 2,684
Total 21,993 22,369 20,651 22,629