Securing Justice and Equity
Why is there a pressing need to secure justice and equity?
All of us are touched to some degree by human rights injustices:
- Women constitute more than half of Canadians.
- Women on average still take home about 70 cents for every dollar men earn. The lifetime losses are staggering. Gender inequities, violence and harassment still permeate our economy and society.
- Many who live in Canada also experience great injustices in the labour market and society because of factors such as their race, colour, indigeneity, religion, ethnic origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, family or marital status and immigrant status. Those who experience discrimination on several grounds suffer even greater adverse impacts and losses.
- Poverty and social exclusion also exacerbate these injustices.
All of these injustices can lead to lower pay, more precarious work and life circumstances and violence and harassment.
We are all bound together by our promise to secure for ourselves and everyone equal dignity and respect in our workplaces and communities. Striving to reach that goal is what makes us human. But that goal is far from being met.
Achieving human rights for disadvantaged groups is not just the right thing to do. It is the law.
- Both direct and systemic discrimination violate federal and provincial human rights laws and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Systemic discrimination flows primarily from policies and practices that appear neutral but have the effect of disadvantaging protected groups. Such discrimination can be perpetuated by a failure to identify and monitor adverse impacts and to take remedial action.
- Human rights laws and jurisprudence recognize that inequities are often embedded in employment, institutional, governmental and societal systems and requires them to be removed and positive measures taken to close the justice and equity gaps.
Yet defending human rights and working for equity is hard.
- Human rights do not always make common sense—often taking people and organizations outside their comfort zone.
- Stereotypical assumptions are often the “common sense” view—with much misunderstanding of the adverse impacts on equity groups.
- Thoughtful reflection and evidence is usually needed to persuade others of the negative impacts experienced by disadvantaged groups.
That is why human rights are a “right”—something to be guaranteed —and not a privilege. Human rights, labour and constitutional laws guide necessary systemic changes achieved through change management or dispute resolution processes.