News Release: The Manitoba Human Rights Commission


September 30, 2013

The Government of Manitoba responds to systemic discrimination complaint

Two Winnipeg families of Deaf children are happy to learn that the Manitoba Government's Sport Secretariat through its agency, Sport Manitoba, will provide additional funding for American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation services for young athletes participating in organized amateur sport activities. This has resolved a human rights complaint alleging systemic discrimination against Deaf children who wanted more participation in sports. The parties voluntarily entered into the mediation process before an investigation took place so no determination of discrimination had been found.

Kyra Zimmer, one of the parents who filed the complaint said, "Interpretation services will now be provided to Deaf children at every step of amateur sports activities from try-outs to competitions."

Both complainants, Ms Zimmer and Mr. Brian Boszeit, who are Deaf and are the parents of Deaf children, filed a human rights complaint on behalf of their children and all other Deaf children in Manitoba. According to these parents, there were barriers due to insufficient funding for ASL interpretation services. This made it more difficult for some Deaf children to participate fully in sports and develop leadership skills, avoid negative lifestyle choices and enjoy the benefits that other children have by participating in a wide range of amateur sport activities.

The parties involved in the complaint met and, through a Manitoba Human Rights Commission mediation process, agreed that a funding level up to a maximum of $40,000 per year for all Deaf children participating in sport would address the problem. This funding will be designated for interpretation services and help athletes communicate more clearly with their coaches and game officials.

"The province is committed to the full inclusion of Manitobans where they live, learn, work and play; ASL interpretation for Deaf children participating in amateur sport is an important step in meeting this goal," stated Family Services and Labour Minister Jennifer Howard, Minister responsible for Persons with Disabilities. Manitoba plans to enact accessibility legislation to remove barriers by working with the public and private sectors to make proactive, long-range plans that enhance accessibility for everyone.

Generally speaking, systemic discrimination affects a group (or groups) of people. In 1987 the Supreme Court of Canada defined systemic discrimination as practices or attitudes that have, whether by design or impact, the effect of limiting an individual or group's right to opportunities.

Joan Braun, the Executive Director of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission says the Commission is very pleased that mediation resulted in Deaf children having seamless, interpretive services provided to them so that they can pursue sports activities.

"This is a great example of a settlement, which was made voluntarily and in good faith by everyone involved with a view to provide access to sport for all Manitoba children," she said. "It should also be noted that the efforts of people like Ms Zimmer and Mr. Boszeit have resulted in not only putting a face to systemic discrimination but also being instrumental to an outcome beneficial to all Deaf young people in Manitoba."


For more information or to arrange an interview with Rick Zimmer (speaking on behalf of the families) please contact:
Patricia Knipe
Communications Director
Manitoba Human Rights Commission

To arrange for an interview with Jeff Hnatiuk, Sport Manitoba’s President and CEO
Please contact
Joelle Schmidt
Sport Manitoba
Communications/Public Relations Officer
Phone: 204-925-5735