What is the MHRC?
The Manitoba Human Rights Commission is the agency responsible for carrying out the provisions of The Human Rights Code (Manitoba). It is an arms-length agency, funded by the Manitoba Government.
The Commission enforces the anti-discrimination provisions of The Code through its complaint process. Anyone, including a group or organization, can file a complaint if it is believed that a practice or policy results in unreasonable discrimination. In determining whether discrimination has occurred, it is the effect, not the intention that counts.
The Code protects everyone in Manitoba from discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and services available to the public, in addition to other areas that are specifically set out, such as contracts. The Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics or historically disadvantaged groups.
Protected characteristics are the grounds on which a human rights complaint can be filed. These include ancestry, nationality, ethnic background, religion, age, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, marital or family status, source of income, political belief, and physical or mental disability. In addition to these characteristics, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission accepts complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of stereotyping if it applies to a historically disadvantaged group. For example, the Commission accepts complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of criminal record.
The Commission is authorized to mediate and investigate complaints of discrimination, to refer matters to adjudication, to educate the public and promote human rights. The staff does not act as an advocate for the complainant or the respondent in the complaint process.
Most employers, landlords or service providers that are located in Manitoba fall under the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Commission. Some businesses, however, such as airlines, banks, and telecommunication enterprises, as well as the federal civil service and many First Nations governments and organizations, are regulated by federal law and complaints must be filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The staff of either commission will answer any questions regarding the appropriate jurisdiction to deal with a particular complaint.
The staff consists of an executive director, managers, legal counsel, a policy analyst, a communications director, administrative support, intake officers and human rights officers (mediators and investigators). There are offices in Winnipeg, Brandon and The Pas.
There is no charge for filing a complaint or for seeking advice about a human rights concern.
The Manitoba Human Rights Board of Commissioners consists of ten individuals (including a chairperson and a vice chairperson) who represent the geographic, cultural, social and economic profile of Manitoba and are appointed by the Government of Manitoba. The Board can dismiss a complaint, direct the parties to settle the complaint or ask the government to appoint an adjudicator for a public hearing.
The Board also assists in the interpretation of the Human Rights Code by approving policies and guidelines for the Commission. It also approves all Commission publications and sets direction and priorities, such as the Commission's youth initiative.