British Columbia is boosting funding for the Human Rights Tribunal and Community Legal Assistance Society by as much as $4.5 million per year.
The province says in a statement the number of cases brought to the tribunal increased from 1,460 in 2019 to 3,192 in 2022.
It says the new funding will go toward helping the tribunal tackle its increased caseload and allow the legal society to hire more lawyers, legal advocates and support staff.
The Community Legal Assistance Society, which provides free legal services to disadvantaged people, including for human rights complaints, says it has seen increasing demand for years but COVID-19 caused an “unprecedented spike,” with calls to its inquiry line doubling in 2020.
The tribunal released a report the same year that found the number of Indigenous Peoples filing human rights complaints was disproportionately low and, in response, the province added Indigenous identity as a protected ground under the B.C. Human Rights Code.
The province says the funding will also support the tribunal’s ongoing work to implement the recommendations outlined in the report.
“This much-needed funding will help the tribunal better meet the specific needs of Indigenous Peoples and better meet the increased demands for resolution of discrimination complaints, ensuring everyone who needs it can access appropriate recourse under the B.C. Human Rights Code,” Emily Ohler, chair of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, said in the news release.