News Release Archive

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has amended existing
policies and established several new ones to define more clearly
its positions on various operating and discrimination issues.

Areas covered by these amended or new policies include housing
and employment advertising, publication of settlements,
commission-initiated complaints, boards of inquiries, complaints
regarding affirmative action programs, and discriminatory

"Up until now, there really hadn't been any past effort to go
back and review the commission's policies to see if they were
still relevant and up-to-date." said Wayne MacKay, executive
director of the Human Rights Commission. "Having these policies
in place will allow the commission to be more systematic at all
levels so people will have a greater sense of how the commission
will react to an issue before a complaint is registered."

The process of updating and developing new policies began in
September 1995 as part of an overall goal by the commission to
become more systematic and proactive. Recent approval of the new
policies is a continuation of this process, and all commission
policies will be reviewed and updated regularly.

Some areas addressed by the new and amended policies:

- Housing and employment advertising faces stricter guidelines.
  In addition to not being able to advertise "adult only housing"
  or "no children allowed," a landlord cannot refuse to rent to a 
  potential tenant based on his or her source of income. The
  amount of income, not the source, is the criterion.

  "Nova Scotia is one of the only provinces that have this in
  their policy," said Mr. MacKay. "It is extremely helpful for
  single-parent families and persons on welfare who might
  otherwise be refused a place to live because of the source of
  their income."

- Terms of settlements are not to be publicized unless the
  commission determines public interest clearly outweighs   
  achievement of a settlement.

- The commission itself may initiate a complaint, following   
  specific principles and procedures.

- Boards of inquiries are appointed on established criteria.

- Guidelines will govern the investigation of complaints into   
  affirmative action programs to determine the merit of such   

Another important policy change relates to a section in the Nova
Scotia Human Rights Act that prohibits discriminatory
publications. But identifying what is a discriminatory
publication, given the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, can be a
grey area.

The commission has approved a policy where it will not accept
complaints with respect to newspaper articles, editorials or
cartoons, but it may publicly comment on such material. The
commission will, however, accept and inquire into advertisements,
and other forms of potentially discriminatory publications. This
attempts to balance freedom of speech and protection of
vulnerable groups.

"If it is a paid advertisement, there is much more scope to argue
it is discriminatory because the advertisers aren't subject to
the same free speech protection as an editorial or newspaper
article," said Mr. MacKay.

The commission is also working to become more proactive through
improved awareness of and access to commission programs and
services, earlier and more efficient resolution of complaints,
more effective resolution processes, and more active involvement
with larger organizations to address systemic discrimination.


Contact: Wayne MacKay
         Executive Director

NOTE TO EDITORS: For a complete copy of the policies please call

trp                      June 19, 1997 - 3:10 p.m.