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Chilliwack MLA protests passage of Human Rights Commission

On Thursday, Members of the Legislative Assembly of BC voted unanimously at third reading restore the province's Human Rights Commission. One MLA, however, abstained to protest a government he claims is trying to protect the rights of the nonreligious at the expense of "the right of Christians to follow the biblical ethic that their Lord and their conscience requires."

The bill, introduced earlier this month, was welcomed by the BC Humanist Association and other human rights organizations in the province. It's passage means BC will soon have an independent Human Rights Commissioner whose duty will be to educate and promote human rights in the province.

The existing Human Rights Tribunal provides a space where individuals can bring forward specific claims of discrimination. The Commissioner's work will supplement the Tribunal by proactively researching human rights issues in the province and providing guidance to individuals and organizations seeking to adopt best practices.

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Mandatory AA policy deemed "unreasonable"

A labour arbitrator has ruled that Interior Health's policies around hospital workers with substance use issues are discriminatory. The policy is immediately suspended.

According to the ruling, the health region's policy meant any employee who disclosed a substance use issue could be immediately suspended and required the employee to commit to abstinence, monitoring for two years, attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings and regular meetings with administration. The Hospital Employees' Union (HEU) filed a complaint under the Labour Relations Code alleging that these requirements were discriminatory and failed to account for individual circumstances of each employee.

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Humanists raise concern about Christian housing funding

Humanists and secularists are raising concerns about two projects announced as part of a slew of new affordable housing initiatives by the Government of BC.

The BC Humanist Association is concerned that the projects, run by the Pentecostal Christian Life Assembly in Langley and Salvation Army in Vancouver, may exclude LGBTQ+ individuals and use the facilities to proselytize to vulnerable populations. The projects account for 143 of the 4900 new homes and will receive $14.3 million from the province.

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Say no to Operation Christmas Child

Every November, Operation Christmas Child asks parents and families to fill shoeboxes with toys and gifts to deliver to children in the developing world. While seemingly well-intentioned, these gifts are not freely given and are instead a tool to proselytize to a captive audience.

The BC Humanist Association calls on all BC public schools to refuse to participate in this program and has asked the Minister of Education to direct schools to not take part.

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Humanists welcome legislation to restore BC Human Rights Commission

The BC Humanist Association is welcoming legislation introduced today to restore the province's Human Rights Commission.

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:

Core to Humanism is the promotion of human rights and the creation of a more just and compassionate society. Human Rights Commissions in every other province play a crucial role in that effort as they provide clear guidance to employers, landlords, service providers and citizens about their duties to respect one another's rights.

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Ways and Means Motion signals government's next moves on charities' free speech

On Thursday, Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau took the first formal legislative step to remove limits on the political activities of charities.

Morneau introduced a Ways and Means Motion in the House of Commons on Thursday. The motion passed today with a vote of 166 to 114. Ways and Means Motions are tabled and approved prior to the introduction of taxation legislation. This motion removes restrictions on political activities of charities among other changes.

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Parliamentary petition calls for conversion therapy ban

An effort is underway to get the Government of Canada to ban so-called "conversion therapy" for minors in Canada.

The therapy is based on religious fundamentalism and pseudoscientific claims that a person's sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed. The techniques are discredited by the Pan American Health Organization, the Canadian Psychological Association and other mainstream medical bodies.

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End funding of independent schools - BC finance committee brief

Calling the funding contrary to the province's duty of religious neutrality, the BC Humanist Association today called on the province's finance committee to phase out the public funding of private schools in the next provincial budget.

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Humanists submit comments on draft political activities proposals

The BC Humanist Association today said proposals in a draft charities reform bill "fall far short of the mark" by failing to implement a modernized charities framework.

The BCHA welcomes the Government's move to delete references to nonpartisan political activities, thereby ending the gag on charities participating in development of public policy. However, the proposed bill offers little else to celebrate.

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Government releases draft bill to lift restrictions on charities

The BC Humanist Association is welcoming proposed legislation to repeal restrictions on the political activities of charities in Canada but we are disappointed that the proposals don't go farther.

Under existing rules, Canadian charities must not spend more than 10% of its resources on "political activities." This includes activities intended to influence legislation or government policy. Charities are forbidden from partisan activities, which includes endorsing or opposing specific candidates or parties.

The federal government quietly released proposed changes to these rules on Friday evening. The proposals would remove references to political activities from the Income Tax Act. This follows recommendations from the Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities released earlier this year and the Canada Without Poverty v AG ruling. That ruling found the current restrictions to be unconstitutional; however, the government is appealing.

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