FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Nathalie Chiasson, chair of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission:

The new Human Rights Act is now in force, making it possible to eliminate inequalities by adding two new prohibited grounds of discrimination: “family status” and “gender identity or expression.” These changes are the result of Bill 51, An Act to Amend the Human Rights Act, which received royal assent today.

The concepts of family and gender identity or expression have changed greatly over the years and are constantly evolving. It was therefore imperative that the New Brunswick Human Rights Act, which protects the fundamental rights of every resident of our province, be a reflection of this changing reality in order to be an effective tool in the protection of our fundamental rights. These changes were necessary to support the concept of respect for each person in their diversity and inclusion.

Individuals who care for family members will welcome the “family status” addition because it creates a mechanism whereby they are protected from discrimination arising from their commitment to the well-being of loved ones by caring for them.

The addition of “gender identity or expression” as a prohibited ground of discrimination will also provide inclusive protection for the transgender, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people of our province.

The Human Rights Act had not been thoroughly reviewed for 25 years. The amendments will also improve the commission’s ability to investigate and resolve complaints and allow it to better respond to people's concerns.

Our society is constantly evolving, and the modernization of the act is essential to ensure that New Brunswickers have access to the commission's services.

The commission is an influential voice in the development of public policy and plays a leading role in the recognition of the right to equality. Since 1967, it has been working to resolve discrimination complaints and to educate New Brunswickers about the importance of human rights in our society. It works with the government to strengthen human rights legislation and ensure that these rights are respected in legislation and policy.

More information on the services offered by the commission and the calendar of events marking its 50th anniversary are available online.