FREDERICTON (GNB) – The New Brunswick Human Rights Commission released a new guideline today, entitled Special Programs and the Meaning of Equality and Discrimination. Special programs provide governments and the private sector a unique mechanism to incorporate substantive equality and non-discrimination in their work and operations. Special programs acknowledge that certain groups face systemic disadvantages in society, and they implement mechanisms to give preference to these groups in employment, housing or services, promoting social equality and inclusion.

The commission is encouraging employers, housing and service providers to implement special programs in their set-ups, to nudge society toward systemic change. Special programs bridge gaps that may be inherent in mainstream administrative, legal, and policy measures or that are ingrained in institutional practices; they remove impediments to equality, correct historical wrongs, and advance the ideals of equity and non-discrimination. The guideline is a valuable educational resource that explains the objective and purpose of special programs, clarifies the concepts of equality and discrimination, and offers practical examples and direction on setting up special programs in employment, housing, and services.

The commission is mandated to protect and promote human rights in the province, and to uphold the principles of equality, non-discrimination, dignity, and inclusion. With New Brunswick’s changing demographic, emergence of new rights holders, and renewed awareness of systemic discrimination, employers, housing and service providers need to take proactive measures to embrace core human rights values and principles and usher systemic social change in the province.

For more information about the Human Rights Act or the commission’s publications, New Brunswickers can call 506-453-2301 or 1-888-471-2233 (toll-free in the province). They can also visit the commission’s website or send an email to hrc.cdp@gnb.ca.