Human rights are everyone’s business. The social climate we live in affects us all. When people are subjected to prejudice and discrimination because they are aboriginal or because of their gender or because of their sexual orientation or for some other reason, it creates a society that is more ugly, less safe and less human for all of us.
That is why we need a Human Rights Commission in BC. Otherwise, prejudice and injustice fester, people’s lives are harmed and destructive crises erupt.
A Human Rights Commission would help us work together to address issues such as violence against aboriginal girls and women; prevalence of sexually degrading and threatening messages on social media that targets female school students; barriers that prevent people with disabilities from obtaining employment; the urgent need for schools to accept and support trans-gender students; the appalling absence of mental health services, particularly for children and particularly for people living in rural areas.
Our failure to address these and other human rights issues brings not only a high human cost, but also huge economic costs that come with a dysfunctional society, such as costs for emergency and chronic health services; policing, court and prison costs; the economic benefits that are lost when children face unjust disadvantages and are denied an equal chance to thrive and contribute to society.
That is why we need a Human Rights Commission in BC. Now.
Kathleen Ruff is a former director of the BC Human Rights Commission, was director of the Court Challenges Program, is Senior Human Rights Adviser to the Rideau Institute, and is the founder and director of www.rightoncanada.ca. She is a research associate with the CCPA.
This blog post is part of a series on human rights, based on the new report Strengthening Human Rights: Why British Columbia Needs a Human Rights Commission. Find other blogs in the series here.