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C LASS N OTES FOR : P OLI S CI 3NN6
McMaster University, Winter 2014
M ONDAY , M ARCH 17, 2014
SECTION 15 - EQUALITY
1. SECTION 15(1) AND 15(2)
Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law
15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and
national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.tion based on race,
--- Prevents the Gov’t from discriminating against individuals
Affirmative action programs
(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of
conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race,
national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
--- Where it is designed to alleviat e conditions of disadvantage
2. WHO CAN CLAIM BENEFIT
- Does not include a corporation, except to the extent that they can argue NEGATIVE rights.
- Corporation cannot say “We are being discriminated against” but if it can demonstrate that a
law discriminates against individuals, etc.
3. LIMITATIONS OF EQUALITY
a. Section 33 and Section 1
- Subject to section 33,
- Subject to section 1, if Gov’t can demonstrate that its efforts are justifiable in a free and
democratic society, then they can infringe.
- Do not have an absolute right to equality in Canada because of Section 1 and 33.
b. Section 15(1) – meaning of “law”
- Are there inherent limitations? Does the reference explicitly for equality before and under the law
narrow the interpretation and application of section 15
- Proper approach is to apply section 15 to ALL gov’t action, not just laws but activity.
Eldridge v. BC
- Deaf woman who required medical treatment, the Charter applied to the
Vancouver general hospital because delivering things that were gov’t in nature.
- “Translation services”
- Public entity determining where its budget goes.
Vriend V. Alberta
- Individual in question who was employed by a college, who was dismissed by
his homosexual nature
Angie © McMaster University 1
Winter 2014 Started on: 3/21/14 4:53 PM
- Gov’t argued that considered to include sexual orientation, and decided they had
not to consider it. It failed to include something in the LAW.
- The law did not state anything about the sexual orientation
- Covers omissions and comissions
- Legislation and action!
- Section 15 has been interpreted very broadly by the Supreme court of Canada
Does not apply to private activity.
- Most private activity in our provinces are covered by provincial human rights
o Participation in sports
o Recreational activities
o Cannot discriminate as a private citizen when you go to hire, or rent your
o ONTARIO human rights code says that you cannot!
o Human rights codes are laws that have been passed
o Charter has been extended into private activity
c. Private Activity
--- Charter has been extended
--- Activity prohibited under charter will also be prohibited in private activity
Vriend v. Alberta
- Homosexual that was fired in the college, and how it was not consisted with the
teachings of the private school
- Difficulty was that human rights code did not prohibit discrimination on sexual
- Sued the gov’t of Alberta
- Supreme court of Canada amended it and included sexual orientation
Blainey v. OHA (1986) 54 O.R. (2d) 513 (CA)
- In this case a young woman, JUSTI