Legal instruments of gender equality
A number of legal instruments exist in Canada to advance and protect gender equality. At the federal level, the following apply:
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides the constitutional protection of individual human rights. The Charter applies to relationships between private individuals or organizations are covered in certain areas by the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and provincial and territorial human rights legislation.
Section 15 of the Charter ensures the equal protection and equal benefit of the law "without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability." Court decisions have expanded this list to prohibit discrimination on other grounds, such as citizenship, marital status and sexual orientation, and have recognized that multiple grounds of discrimination may intersect in particular cases. Section 28 guarantees that all rights covered in the Charter apply equally to male and female persons.
The CHRA, 1977, states that all Canadians have the right to equality, equal opportunity, fair treatment, and an environment free of discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (added in 2017), marital status and family status, in employment and the provision of goods, services, facilities or accommodation within federal jurisdiction.
The CHRA created the Canadian Human Rights Commission to investigate and settle complaints of discrimination, and refer them to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for adjudication.
The following legislative acts might also be of particular interest to women and equality rights:
- Employment Equity Act [1995, c. 44]
- Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act [2009, c. 2, s. 394]
- Pay Equity Act (S.C. 2018, c. 27, s. 416)
For more information about the history of equality rights, please visit the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
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