March 17, 2017
Fredericton (GNB) – The New Brunswick Women’s Council welcomes legislation to update the province’s Human Rights Act by adding gender identity and expression and family status to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination and modernizing language on disability.
“The proposed amendments will extend much needed protections to citizens who have long been fighting for rights and recognition, particularly transgender individuals,” said council co-chair Jennifer Richard. “As both women’s and trans rights are rooted in gender-based equality, the council stands in solidarity with trans New Brunswickers.”
Currently, all provinces and territories with the exception of New Brunswick and Yukon include gender identity and/or expression in their human rights protections. New Brunswick is the last provincial-territorial jurisdiction in Canada to add family status to its list of prohibited grounds for discrimination.
“Family status is a protection that is frequently used to help individuals secure workplace accommodations that will enable them to meet family caregiving responsibilities,” said council co-chair Jody Dallaire. “Given that such caregiving is overwhelmingly provided by women, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of family status is a matter of women’s equality.”
The council is pleased that the amendments do not include a rigid definition of the family, instead leaving the concept open to interpretation based on emerging legal precedent.
“Profound and enduring family bonds between individuals are not always based on biological ties or legal relationships,” said the council’s executive director Beth Lyons. “Chosen families – which we often see in LGBTQ+ communities and increasingly amongst single senior women – deserve recognition and protection.”
The legislation would also render the Act’s definition of disability more inclusive. Ensuring more disabled women are protected under the Act is a women’s equality issue as women experience disability at a higher rate than men and face unique barriers and risks relating to their gendered experience of disability. For instance, disabled women are more likely to report having unmet care needs and are at a higher risk of violence than disabled men.
The New Brunswick Women’s Council is an independent public advisory body on women’s equality issues.
Media contact: Beth Lyons, Executive Director, New Brunswick Women’s Council
[email protected] Tel. 506-462-5142