Supreme Court of Canada issues decision with grave consequence for marginalized communities’ access to justice


OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada has released a decision today that will impact the human rights protections available to vulnerable groups who want to challenge government discrimination. The court confirmed that the laws made by government are not “services.” The Court’s ruling will make it more difficult for people and groups to challenge discriminatory laws using human rights systems. This decision further erodes a declining state of access to justice in Canada.

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BC Supreme Court finds In favour of former tent city residents


(Victoria, BC) Former residents of Super-in-Tent City (SIC), a tent city formerly located on the Victoria law courts property, are celebrating a May 18, 2018, decision from Justice Sharma of the BC Supreme Court, affirming their rights as tenants in the social housing building at 844 Johnson Street which was set up to house them when the tent city was dismantled.

This precedent setting decision dismisses an appeal brought by the Portland Hotel Society (PHS), a non-profit supportive housing provider and operator of the property located at 844 Johnson Street, and affirms the findings of the Residential Tenancy Branch that tenants in the building are covered under the Residential Tenancy Act and should be afforded all the same rights as tenants who reside in market housing. The decision also clearly mandates that blanket guest restrictions, like those imposed on the tenants at 844 Johnson Street, are illegal and must be removed. The decision will have positive and lasting effects on the lives of thousands of tenants living in supportive housing in Victoria and across the province.

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Changes to the Residential Tenancy Act won't protect renters facing renovictions


On April 12 2018, the BC government announced amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act (the “RTA”). The government says that the aim of these amendments is to increase protections for tenants facing eviction due to renovations, repairs, or demolition. However, tenant advocates, Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) and Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC), say that the changes will not provide meaningful protection for tenants across the province.

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Renovicted Tenant Gets Justice at BC Supreme Court


Tenant advocacy organizations are celebrating a decision from the BC Supreme Court which set aside a “renoviction” allowed by the Residential Tenancy Branch.

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Operating in Darkness: BC's Mental Health Act Detention System

New report finds disturbing rights violations in BC’s mental health detention system


BC is violating the rights of people in mental health detention, according to a report released today by the Community Legal Assistance Society: Operating in Darkness: BC’s Mental Health Act Detention System

Press Release November 29th, 2017


Broad coalition of legal organizations calling for significant reform to BC's justice system

Pivot Legal Society, Community Legal Assistance Society, BC Civil Liberties Association, and West Coast LEAF are calling on the provincial government to implement significant changes to BC’s justice and legal systems in order to support marginalized and Indigenous communities in the province, and to improve the delivery of justice to all British Columbians.


CLAS at the Supreme Court of Canada fighting for Harassment-free workplaces


March 27, 2017

If you are being harassed at work, you may not have the right to file a human rights complaint, because it all depends on who is harassing you.

A case being appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada recently decided that a worker can only make a human rights complaint about harassment in their workplace if the person harassing them is in a position of authority, such as a supervisor or manager, or if their employer allows the harassment to occur. But what happens if the person harassing you is not above you at work? Or, what if the harasser works for a different employer at your multi-job worksite? Right now, the situation is unclear.

The Supreme Court will hear the appeal on Tuesday March 28, 2017. Its decision could impact whether everyone in BC is protected from harassment in the workplace under the province’s human rights legislation.

The Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) is supporting the rights of all workers by acting as an intervener in the appeal, along with several other groups. CLAS lawyer Juliana Dalley, who will be appearing at the Supreme Court of Canada, says all workers should have the ability to make complaints about discrimination and harassment in the workplace — whether it is from a supervisor or co-worker.

The appeal will look at a recent case in Delta, where the person’s position of authority was the deciding factor in having the complaint dismissed. The case involves an engineer and construction foreman working at the same construction site, but employed by two different companies. The engineer filed a human rights complaint, alleging that the foreman shoved him and harassed him with racist, Islamophobic and homophobic insults, such as, "You are not going to blow us up with a suicide bomb, are you?" The BC Court of Appeal dismissed this complaint finding that the foreman could not have discriminated against the engineer since he was not in a position of "authority" over the engineer.

Dalley warns this could send the wrong message about harassment in the workplace. She says many people already find it difficult to bring a human rights complaint forward because they may not know their rights or have access to legal help, may feel embarrassed, worry about how co-workers might treat them, or fear for their job security. So if they do come forward with a complaint, only to have it dismissed because of the position of the harasser within the company, the person is being victimized again, but this time by a legal system that does not recognize their complaint.

She says this case is an important step towards ensuring everyone’s right to a safe workplace — free from discrimination.

Lawyers Lindsay Lyster, of Moore Edgar Lyster, and Juliana Dalley will be representing CLAS at the Supreme Court.

Media inquiries contact:

Dianne Bankay, Communications Coordinator

Community Legal Assistance Society

604 657 0667

Government agrees to let families keep EI maternity and parental benefits


Vancouver [September 28, 2016] – In response to a human rights complaint, the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation announced yesterday that it will end the practice of clawing back Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits from families receiving income and disability assistance. The government also announced that it will no longer claw back EI benefits for parents caring for critically ill children. These changes will allow about 200 families with young children in BC to keep their EI income replacement at a time when they need it most.

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