Human Rights Tribunal to hear AA case

A BC Human Rights Tribunal adjudicator has rejected an attempt to dismiss a complaint against Vancouver Coastal Health Authority for forcing a nurse to attending a 12-step program.

The BC Humanist Association (BCHA) has been following Byron Wood's case for several years now. This is the final step before Wood's case goes before a hearing at the Human Rights Tribunal. That Tribunal will ultimately rule whether Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) should be considered a religious program and therefore whether forcing patients to adhere to AA as part of their treatment violates their right to freedom from religion.

The adjudicator wrote:

The Tribunal has not considered whether the 12‐step program utilized by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and on the evidence before the Tribunal is a commonly utilized system used by addictions specialists in the province, may discriminate against persons with substance abuse disorders who are atheists and if so, what appropriate accommodation at least in circumstances as they presented with Mr. Wood would be. In my view, there is a public interest in addressing that issue.

The BCHA has previously presented to the BC Legislature's Health Committee about the importance of the province providing secular and evidence-based addictions recovery programs.

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