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Understanding Human Rights

What are the basic human rights?

Human rights are fundamental rights to all human beings. There are 30 universal human rights that all of us are entitled to. These include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, the right to equality and dignity, and to live free from all forms of discrimination.

What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. The Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris, in December 1948. The UDHR, together with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, form the so-called International Bill of Human Rights.

What is the Canadian Human Rights Act? 

In Canada, basic human rights are protected by federal, provincial and territorial laws. Canada’s human rights laws stem from the UDHR.

The Canadian Human Rights Act of 1985 protects people in Canada from discrimination when they are employed by or receive services from the federal government, First Nations governments or private companies that are regulated by the federal government such as banks, trucking companies, broadcasters and telecommunications companies.

What is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? 

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 is part of Canada’s Constitution. The Charter protects every Canadian’s right to be treated equally under the law. The Charter guarantees broad equality rights and other fundamental rights such as the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion. It only applies to governments, and not to private individuals, businesses or other organizations. The Charter also protects the rights of all Canadians from infringements by laws, policies or actions of governments, including authorities such as the police.

What is the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Act, 2010? 

In Newfoundland and Labrador, it is the Human Rights Act of 2010 that protects people from discrimination and harassment. The Human Rights Act recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of all people, that we all have equal rights and opportunities and should live free from discrimination and harassment.

What is the difference between the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Act and the Canadian Human Rights Act? 

The NL Human Rights Commission only has the ability to deal with a complaint if the person, company, business, organization or association someone is complaining about operates under provincial law. Provincial businesses include restaurants, stores, coffee shops, health care facilities, and landlords, to name a few.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has the ability to deal with a complaint against an organization or business that falls under federal jurisdiction. Federally regulated businesses include chartered banks, airlines, television and radio stations, telephone companies, and organizations that transport people or goods between provinces or countries. Click here to learn more about the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

What rights do I have in Newfoundland and Labrador?

You have the right not to be discriminated against or harassed based on your race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, social origin, religious creed, religion, age, disability, disfigurement, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status, source of income and political opinion.

What does the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission do? 

Click here to learn more about us.