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ARCHIVED - Canadian Human Rights Tribunal - Report

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Chairperson's Message

Shirish P. Chatalia

Shirish P. Chotalia, Chairperson

I am pleased to present this report of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's (the Tribunal) performance as measured against the plans and priorities that were established in the fall of 2009. Human rights complaints of discrimination involve issues that touch the dignity of the person and often involve the most-disenfranchised group of Canadians. The principal barriers to access to justice for human rights complainants before the Tribunal are: legal costs in having complaints heard and delays. My aspiration is to provide Canadians with a fair and fast venue to be heard without having to incur significant legal costs. More importantly, my objective is to provide the parties with a model of restorative justice that meets their needs.

In this regard, 2010-2011 represents my first full twelve month consecutive period of time as Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Tribunal. It has been a challenging but rewarding 12 months and I am pleased to report that progress has been made in reaching the objectives I laid out when I took office. These objectives involved intensive pre-hearing case management to narrow the issues of litigation and abbreviate the hearings by focusing on facts in dispute. Under the reporting period over 80% of inquiries were concluded within 12 months of referral, an increase of 10% over last fiscal year. In addition, we have actively promoted the use of proven approaches to mediation for resolving complaints in a more timely and efficient manner and I am pleased to report that of the 41 cases closed in 2010-2011, 23 of these were as a result of mediation.

In the past year, I have also redirected resources to enhance the legal services capacity of the Tribunal. This will allow us to better focus our efforts on the core mandate of ensuring individuals have equal access to fair and equitable adjudication of human rights and employment equity cases that are brought before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. I would like to acknowledge and thank all the full and part- time members, as well as the dedicated staff of the Tribunal, whose expertise and wealth of experience serves all Canadians by resolving complaints fairly and quickly.

We will continue to search for innovative ways to provide effective and efficient adjudicative processes that allows parties to access justice in a timely fashion as we move ahead toward achieving an ideal society based on diversity, equality and fairness.

Section I: Departmental Overview

Raison d'tre

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body that hears complaints of discrimination referred by the Canadian Human Rights Commission and determines whether the activities complained of violate the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). The purpose of the CHRA is to protect individuals from discrimination and to promote equal opportunity. The Tribunal also decides cases brought under the Employment Equity Act (EEA) and, pursuant to section 11 of the CHRA, determines allegations of wage disparity between men and women doing work of equal value in the same establishment.


In hearing complaints under the CHRA and the EEA, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal considers matters concerning employment or the provision of goods, services, facilities or accommodation. The CHRA makes it an offence for a federally regulated employer or service provider to discriminate against an individual or group on any of the following grounds:

  • race;
  • national or ethnic origin;
  • colour;
  • religion;
  • age;
  • sex (includes pay equity, pregnancy, childbirth and harassment, although harassment can apply to all grounds);
  • marital status;
  • family status;
  • sexual orientation;
  • disability (can be mental or physical, and includes disfigurement and past, existing or perceived alcohol or drug dependence);
  • conviction for which a pardon has been granted.
The Tribunal's jurisdiction covers matters that come within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada, including those concerning federal government departments and agencies, as well as banks, airlines and other federally regulated employers and providers of goods, services, facilities and accommodation. The Tribunal holds public hearings to inquire into complaints of discrimination. Based on evidence and the law (often conflicting and complex), it determines whether discrimination has occurred. If it makes a finding of discrimination, the Tribunal determines the appropriate remedy to compensate the victim of the discriminatory practice, as well as policy adjustments necessary to prevent future discrimination.

The majority of discriminatory acts that the Tribunal adjudicates are not malicious. Many conflicts arise from long-standing practices, legitimate concerns of employers, or conflicting interpretations of statutes and precedents. The role of the Tribunal is to discern the positions of the parties and establish fair and appropriate rules to resolve the dispute.

The Tribunal may inquire only into complaints under the CHRA that are referred to it by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, usually after a full investigation by the Commission. The Commission resolves most cases without the Tribunal's intervention. Cases referred to the Tribunal generally involve complicated legal issues, new human rights issues, unexplored areas of discrimination or multi-faceted evidentiary complaints that must be heard under oath, especially in cases with conflicting evidence that involve issues of credibility.

The Tribunal is not an advocate for the CHRA; that is the role of the Commission. The Tribunal has a statutory mandate to apply the Act based solely on the evidence presented and on current case law. If there is no evidence to support an allegation, then the Tribunal must dismiss the complaint.

The Tribunal reports to Parliament through the Minister of Justice.

Organizational Structure

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is a small, permanent organization comprising a full-time Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, and up to 13 full or part-time members.

Members - To be eligible for appointment by the Governor in Council, Tribunal members must have experience, expertise, interest in and sensitivity to human rights. Under the CHRA, both the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson must have been a member of the bar for more than ten years. Terms of office are up to five years for the thirteen full or part-time members and up to seven years for the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson. Throughout their terms, Tribunal members take training and attend briefing sessions on such topics as decision-writing techniques, evidence and procedure, and in-depth analysis of Canadian human rights issues.

Registry Operations - Administrative responsibility for the Tribunal rests with the Registry. It plans and arranges hearings, acts as liaison between the parties and Tribunal members, and provides administrative support.

Internal Services - Internal services are activities and resources that support the needs of the Tribunal's operating program and other corporate obligations. They include corporate, legal, financial, human resources, and information management and technology services. Human resources services are supplemented through a contractual agreement with Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture (PAA)

Strategic outcome: Individuals have equal access, as determined by the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Employment Equity Act, to fair and equitable adjudication of human rights and employment equity cases that are brought before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

There are two program activities conducted to support achievement of the strategic outcome: (1) Hearings of complaints before the Tribunal; and (2) Internal Services.

Program Activity Architecture

Program Activity Architecture

Organizational Priorities



Strategic Outcome and Program Activity

Continuous Program Involvement


Individuals have equal access, as determined by the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Employment Equity Act, to fair and equitable adjudication of human rights and employment equity cases that are brought before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, and is directly linked to our program activity Hearing of Complains before the Tribunal

Status: Met All

By resolving matters, through mediation or adjudication, the Tribunal effectively and directly contributes to its strategic outcome.

Priority Type Strategic Outcome and Program Activity
Strengthen corporate management capacity Ongoing Internal Services which supports our Strategic Outcome
Status: Mostly Met
The groundwork was laid for acquiring IT services from PWGSC in order to free up administrative funds that could be reallocated to enhancing legal and para-legal support for members of the Tribunal conducting core activities such as pre-hearing management, mediation, hearings and issuing ruling and decisions.

Risk Analysis

The Tribunal is in the process of completing an organization wide risk analysis. The approach taken is consistent with the guidance and good practices outlined in the Management Accountability Framework, Treasury Board's Policy on Integrated Risk Management and the COSO Enterprise Risk Management Framework. An external resource was engaged to conduct an independent and objective assessment by conducting a series of structured interviews. These interviews were conducted with staff members including legal counsel, finance, human resources, and registry, as well as the Executive Director and the Chairperson. In addition to the interviews, a review was undertaken of relevant documents that provide insight into the history, context and nature of risks and risk management objectives within the Tribunal. At the time this performance report was written, discussions between the external resource who conducted the field work and senior management were ongoing with the objective of finalizing the risk assessment in order to begin developing an action plan to address any applicable risks.

In addition to the organization wide risk assessment, a Threat and Risk Analysis (TRA) concerning the reliability and security of the Tribunal's Information Technology (IT) systems and infrastructure was undertaken prior to the end of the fiscal year. The TRA was conducted in accordance with the Government of Canada's Harmonized Threat and Risk Assessment (HTRA) Methodology. As a result of this assessment and the Tribunal's experience with a detected threat, the Tribunal took steps to mitigate this threat by making arrangements through Public Works and Government Services Canada to acquire technology services that would improve program delivery at the Tribunal and effectively address and manage risk in a cost-efficient manner.

Summary of Performance

The following tables display the financial and human resources managed by the Tribunal in 2010-2011.

2010-11 Financial Resources ($ millions)

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending*
4.5 4.8 4.4

2010-11 Human Resources (full-time equivalents-FTEs)

Planned Actual Difference
26 18 8

Strategic Outcome:

Individuals have equal access, as determined by the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Employment Equity Act, to fair and equitable adjudication of human rights and employment equity cases that are brought before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

Performance Indicators Targets 2010-11 Performance
Tribunal decisions/ruling Rendering decisions within four months of the close of the hearing in 80% of the cases Not met.

The Tribunal was unsuccessful in delivering its written decisions within the sought-after four-month timeline from the close of hearing. Unlike hearings before the courts, Tribunal hearings often involve parties who cannot afford professional legal representation. This means they represent themselves in dealing with complex facts, evidence and law. This tends to make the hearing, as well as the post-hearing analysis stage, last longer than is typically the case for administrative tribunals whose parties are represented by counsel.

Program Activity 2009-10
Spending ($millions)
2010-11 ($ millions) Alignment to Government of Canada Outcome
Hearing of complaints before the Tribunal 2.4 2.6 2.6 2.6 1.8 Social Affairs A diverse society that promotes linguistic duality and social inclusion.
Total 2.4 2.6 2.6 2.6 1.8

Program Activity 2009-10
Spending ($millions)
2010-11 ($ millions)
Internal Services 1.9 1.9 1.9 2.2 2.6

Registry - Lower expenditures for this activity resulted from reduced salary costs associated with a number of vacant positions. In addition, reduced costs for hearings were realized by utilizing meeting facilities provided at no charge, increased resolution of complaints through mediation, and shorter hearing times achieved at the pre-hearing stage to narrow the issues and reach agreement on the facts. While the latter cost reductions are expected to continue into the future, staffing of vacant positions will result in increased salary expenditures.

Internal Services - Increased costs were incurred for professional and special services to provide human resource capacity to the organization in the critical areas of executive direction, information technology, and finance to support transformative plans that will enable to Tribunal to enhance program delivery, improve case management and resolution of complaints, better manage risks and provide internal services more cost-efficiently. The organization also experienced an increase in relocation costs.

Expenditure Profile

Expenditure Profile

Overall, actual spending of $4.4 million was $100,000 less than planned spending and relates to lower expenses for employee benefits. The difference between actual and authorized spending of $4.8 million is attributable to an operating budget carry forward from 2009-2010 and salary amounts recoverable from Treasury Board that were not needed.

Actual spending for 2010-2011 reflected the planned spending amount. Some of the planned expenditures realized are costs for relocation of Tribunal members, and the completion of a Threat and Risk Analysis (TRA) concerning the reliability and security of the Tribunal's Information Technology (IT) systems and infrastructure. Other spending increases from 2009-2010 included professional services relating to an organizational restructuring and fees paid to part-time Tribunal members.

Note that actual spending in the graph above and in the Financial Summary table on page 24 does not include a total of $1.2 million for accommodation provided by Public Works and Government Services Canada, and amortization expense for capital assets.

Estimates by Vote

For information on our organizational votes and/or statutory expenditures, please see the 2010-11 Public Accounts of Canada (Volume II) publication. An electronic version of the Public Accounts is available at Public Works and Government Services Canada's website. See Public Accounts of Canada 2010,