Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is there a time line for filing a complaint?
Generally you should file within one year of the incident(s) that you are concerned about. If you believe that you are experiencing discrimination on a continuing basis, for example, as the result of a policy or regulation the time limit would not apply. Commission staff will be able to advise you as to whether you are within the time limit.
2. Is there a fee for filing a complaint?
No. There is no charge for filing a complaint or seeking advice about a human rights concern.
3. Does my mediator or investigator advocate on my behalf?
The Commission staff is impartial and do not advocate on the part of either party.
4. What must a complaint include?
The Intake staff will need information to identify the person or organization (“the respondent”) that you (“the complainant”) are complaining about. Staff will also need information about your allegations of discrimination, such as what took place and what you believe to be the basis for any discriminatory treatment. You may be asked about possible witnesses and other information relevant to your complaint, such as medical, tenancy, or employment records like cheque stubs or Records of Employment. Depending on your complaint, you may also be asked to sign medical or other consent forms in order that information necessary to the investigation of your complaint can be obtained.
5. What do I do if a complaint is made against me?
A copy of the complaint will be sent to you. At the same time, you may be advised that the Commission offers mediation as an option for the parties to consider. In your reply, you should respond to each of the points raised in the complaint. In addition, set out any information you think is necessary to clearly explain your overall position in response to the complainant’s allegations. Reference should be made to dates, documents and/or witnesses you think will support what you are saying. You may wish to attach to your reply information or documents that you feel are important for the investigator to review.
6. Will I need a lawyer if a complaint is filed against me?
You do not require a lawyer to respond to a complaint. You can however, consult a lawyer at your own expense.
7. Does the Board of Commissioners rule on cases?
The Board of Commissioners does not rule on complaints. It can decide if the complaint is frivolous or vexatious. It reviews the Investigator’s report and decides whether the complaint should be dismissed. Once a complaint is dismissed it does not go any further. If the Board finds that the complaint should not be dismissed it may provide the parties with an opportunity to discuss settlement or request that an independent adjudicator be appointed by the Minister of Justice to hear the case.
8. Can I attend a Board of Commissioners meeting?
Meetings of the Board are not “hearings” and all of the information reviewed by the Commissioners is in writing. Meetings are not open to the public, or the parties. Complainants and respondents are given the opportunity to ensure that all relevant information is brought to the Board’s attention, through the investigative process and in written responses to the Investigation Assessment Report prepared by the investigator.
9. Is there an appeal process?
There is no procedure by which the Board’s decision may be appealed. The Ombudsman, however, may be asked to review the processes that were followed and may make recommendations. There is also a judicial review process in the Court of Queen’s Bench when a judge may be asked to determine whether the Board has made a legal error in reaching its decision.
10. Does The Human Rights Code apply to all services and businesses operating in Manitoba?
Some private businesses, 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. Complaints against them must, therefore, be filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission under federal human rights law. If you are uncertain about where to file a complaint, either the Manitoba Human Rights Commission or the Canadian Human Rights Commission will assist you.
11. What is the difference between The Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
The Human Right Code is a law passed by the Manitoba legislature and applies only in Manitoba. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the “Charter” is part of Canada’s Constitution and so applies throughout Canada. The Human Rights Code deals only with the right to be free from discrimination, while the Charter addresses a number of other human rights in addition to the right to equal treatment. Examples of these Charter rights are the right to vote, the guarantees of freedom of expression and religion and the right to be presumed innocent and to a fair process if you become involved in the criminal justice system. The Charter applies only to governmental actions, such as laws and policies, while The Human Rights Code applies to any individual, organization, business or government body, if they engage in discrimination or harassment in one of the areas covered by The Code. Finally, in most cases, to enforce your Charter rights you go to court, while to enforce your rights under The Human Rights Code requires filing a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.