Evidence of meeting #53 for Justice and Human Rights in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site.) The winning word was tribunal.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Ian Fine  Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission
  • Susheel Gupta  Acting Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
  • Diane Watts  Researcher, REAL Women of Canada

November 27th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

My thanks to the witnesses for accommodating the vicissitudes of life in Parliament. Like all my colleagues, I apologize.

The committee charged with the task of reviewing the Canadian Human Rights Act, chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Gérard La Forest, came to the following conclusion. Let me quote a few lines:

To leave the law as it stands would fail to acknowledge the situation of transgendered individuals and allow the issues to remain invisible. While these issues are clearly related to sex, this ground may not cover all those encountered in the transgendered experience, especially in the decision to undergo a sex change and its implementation. To say transsexualism is a disability seems to make it a medical matter rather than a matter of life experienced in the opposite gender.

Clearly, former Justice La Forest came to the conclusion that there were some shortcomings that could infringe the rights of transsexual and transgendered people.

4:25 p.m.

Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ian Fine

That's correct. That was Justice La Forest's conclusion. In fact, he recommended that gender identity be added as a ground to the act.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Great.

When the Standing Committee on Justice examined BillC-36, we looked at the possibility of adding an aggravating factor in order to better protect seniors against abuse. I quote my colleague Mr. Seeback who said that the bill also dealt with reporting the behaviour. That would be very useful: it would be nice to know that that sort of behaviour would be reported in every community in the country.

In his speech in the House, my colleague Mr. Goguen said about Bill C-36 that the change would send a clear zero-tolerance message about elder abuse.

Do you think that the bill as presented would allow us to reach the same or similar objectives? I am talking about the amendments to the Criminal Code.

4:25 p.m.

Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ian Fine

I'm sorry, but I just don't feel that I have the ability to address the criminal aspect of this bill or the previous one, and I would feel more comfortable with the changes around the proposed amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

I quite understand.

Let us go back to what might be called the rights deficit for an important part of the population.

In the testimony we heard last Tuesday, we were told about the Trans PULSE study and I am going to quote some figures from it. The study gathered data from 433 trans people. It found that 43% of those 433 people had completed postsecondary studies, which is noteworthy in itself. But 50% of them earned less that $15,000 per year and 71% of them earned less than $30,000 per year.

In another study done by Egale Canada, 74 transgendered youth said that they were victims of harassment and 34% of them had been the victims of physical violence.

Can we say that there is a rights deficit and that we currently have a problem in terms of the rights of transgendered people?

4:25 p.m.

Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ian Fine

We have the same information available to us. Clearly, we are disturbed by the findings of some of the reports, and certainly around issues concerning mental health, depression, and suicide—all of those statistics are alarming. Clearly, we believe that it is important to add these grounds because these people are marginalized; this group of Canadians is marginalized.

We believe it is a good thing to add this to broaden the protections in the act, to ensure that transgendered people are protected, specifically given what that group has suffered in our society. We think that would be a good thing to extend protections.

Certainly, we know there is a concern around overlap of grounds, but in our experience we have seen that with other grounds under our act, around race, national or ethnic origin, and colour. Oftentimes, we see overlap between the grounds, but we know that it's very important for the transgender community that these grounds be added to the act. We certainly support that.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Thank you. That ends our time.

We were scheduled for one hour and we're just about right on.

I'd really like to thank the panel. We had no interruptions today, and I'm sure the committee learned a great deal.

We'll take a short break.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

I understand, Madame Boivin, that you have a motion you wish to move.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Given the time, Mr. Chair, I wanted to see if my committee colleagues would allow me to make a motion. If we do not have time to finish the amendments today, we could continue next Tuesday in order to get this done. We cannot do it on Thursday because the minister is coming to see us.

I would like to make that motion.

Did you hear me?

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Yes. The clerk explained it to me.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Because we have about half an hour before the bells ring and so on, and I think there are about eight amendments, just in case we're not done by 5:15 p.m., I was presenting a motion that we continue next Tuesday, not this Thursday—just to finish the file and then it's done, because we're still stuck with the December 8 deadline to bring it back to the House. Thursday is the minister, but next Tuesday....

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

I think the clerk has indicated it's December 10.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

December 10?

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Yes.

So hearing the motion—

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

I'm just curious, Mr. Chair, if we have something scheduled for next Tuesday or if this is something that should go to the steering committee.