The Harper government has decided to close Canadian Human Rights Commission offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax.
The three offices slated for closure received 70 per cent of all signed complaints to the CHRC in 2008.
“Closure of the three locations will make it much harder for individuals from marginalized groups to launch human rights complaints,” said CAUT president Penni Stewart.
The union that represents CHRC employees says this latest move will have a negative impact on racialized people and recent immigrants — making it much more difficult to challenge both systemic abuses and individual instances of discrimination.
John Gordon, national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said the closures are indicative of a strategy by the Conservative government to destabilize human rights organizations and women’s groups in Canada.
“When the Conservatives took power in 2006, one of their first moves was to abolish the Court Challenges Program and close Status of Women Canada offices across the country,” he said in a press release. “Women’s groups were denied government funding if they engaged in research or advocacy work, and equality-seeking groups lost the ability to fund Charter of Rights challenges.
“The government has also cancelled funding to notable NGOs such as KAIROS, and appointed ultra-conservative partisan board members to Rights & Democracy — manufacturing a massive crisis within the organization. The closure of CHRC offices is another example of this outrageous trend.”
The PSAC release also notes that the urban centres where the CHRC offices are being closed are home to a significant percentage of all racialized people in Canada.