On April 27, BC MLA Spender Chandra Herbert introduced a bill in the Legislative Assembly that would add gender identity and gender expression to the characteristics protected against discrimination in employment. The bill would amend the BC Human Rights Code, which already protects against discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation, among other characteristics.
The CBC article also reports that seven other provinces have explicit language in their human rights codes to protect against discrimination based on gender identity or expression. The federal government is set to introduce legislation this month to add gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
BC tribunals have recognized that discrimination against a person based on gender identity is implicitly included within discrimination based on sex, according to Egale Canada Human Rights Trust. Herbert contends that the current Code is too vague to protect transgender people from illegal discrimination. He says that while current law “works well in the courts, but doesn’t carry over well in day-to-day interactions.” Egale provides statistics from Ontario that were gathered by TransPULSE, reporting that almost 40 percent of those surveyed said they had been turned down for jobs based on their gender identity.
Unequivocally, transgender persons are protected by current human rights laws in British Columbia and Canada; however, uniform legislative recognition in all Canadian jurisdictions will help make it plainly clear to transgender persons that they are indeed protected. Anyone who believes that they have experienced job discrimination based on transgender status, gender identity or gender expression in BC should speak with an experienced employment lawyer to understand what legal options are available to remedy the problem.