Council Passes By-Law Establishing Guidelines to Address Racism, Discrimination and Harassment

At the July 7 meeting, Council took the very strong step to pass a bylaw that states our commitment to upholding the human rights of individuals, empowering vulnerable communities and fostering a civil society that is committed to the elimination of racism, discrimination, marginalization, and poverty and also in empowering individuals to stand up against intolerance wherever it occurs. The passing of this public policy bylaw is the first step, the laying of a cornerstone. There is much to do for staff and council to implement the strategies and I look forward to the involvement of the public as we move forward.

I encourage you to contact me or any member of Council to share your thoughts and suggestions in relation to the approved strategies.

THE CORPORATION OF THE VILLAGE OF WESTPORT

BY-LAW 2020-35

BEING A BY-LAW TO ESTABLISH GUIDELINES FOR THE VILLAGE OF WESTPORT TO ADDRESS MATTERS OF DISCRIMINATION AND TO IDENTIFY STRATEGIES AND ACTIONS TO COMBAT DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT

WHEREAS the Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977 protects people in Canada from discrimination when they are employed by or receive services from the federal government, First Nations governments or private companies that are regulated by the federal government such as banks, trucking companies, broadcasters and telecommunications companies. People can turn to the Canadian Human Rights Act to protect themselves against harassment or discrimination when based on one or more grounds of discrimination such as race, age and sexual orientation.

AND WHEREAS the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 is part of Canada’s Constitution. The Charter protects every Canadian’s right to be treated equally under the law. The Charter guarantees broad equality rights and other fundamental rights such as the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion. It only applies to governments, and not to private individuals, businesses or other organizations. This means that for the most part, a person cannot mount a Charter challenge against a private business, a private organization, or a person who is not acting on behalf of the government. The Charter also protects the rights of all Canadians from infringements by laws, policies or actions of governments, including authorities such as the police.

AND WHEREAS the United Nations General Assembly adopted unanimously the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. The Declaration recognizes the fundamental rights and freedoms of all people and holds that only when the dignity, worth and equal rights of humankind are respected can we obtain freedom, justice and peace.

AND WHEREAS the Ontario’s Human Rights Code is a provincial law that gives everyone equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific social areas such as jobs, housing, services, facilities, and contracts or agreements. The Code’s goal is to prevent discrimination and harassment because of race, sex, disability, and age, to name a few of the 17 grounds. All other Ontario laws must agree with the Code. This includes municipal by-laws.

AND WHEREAS the Village of Westport is committed to embracing the spirit of the United Nations Declaration and the Ontario Human Rights Code by upholding the human rights of individuals, empowering vulnerable communities and fostering a civil society that is committed to the elimination of racism, discrimination, marginalization, and poverty and also in empowering individuals to stand up against intolerance wherever it occurs.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Council of the Village of Westport shall:

  1. acknowledge that racism, discrimination and harassment exist.

  2. commit to using equity, diversity and inclusive lenses on all future decisions,

  3. provide education to inform Council and Staff about implicit and explicit bias.

  4. direct staff to review all existing Westport public policies for systemic barriers to accessing government programs and services.

  5. raise awareness and assist in community collaboration to identify strategies and actions to combat racism, discrimination and harassment.

  6. direct that the Corporate Strategic Plan be amended to include the goals of this by-law as described in items 1 through 5 above.

ENACTED AND PASSED this 7th day of July 2020.

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