COVID-19 Update – Office of the Human Rights Commissioner of B.C. Releases Policy Statement + FAQ

April 2, 2020

The Office of the Human Rights Commissioner of British Columbia has released a policy statement and accompanying FAQ, providing guidance to employers, as well as service providers and governments, with respect to human rights in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Office of the Human Rights Commissioner is distinct from the BC Human Rights Tribunal, and works proactively through education, research, and investigations into systemic discrimination to prevent discrimination in our province. Its policy statement provides the first directive from our province’s human rights system, the content of which may be influential to our Tribunal in the future, as complaints will no doubt arise from this unprecedented period of time.

The BC Human Rights Commissioner has identified COVID-19 as a condition which amounts to a disability, citing both the seriousness of the illness, as well as the potential stigma that attaches to it. On that basis, the Commissioner has provided that:

[D]iscrimination on the basis of someone having (or appearing to have) COVID-19, is prohibited under the Code except where the duty bearer can justify such treatment (for example, to prohibit or diminish the transmission of the virus).

Today’s bulletin discusses these policy statements and FAQs recently issued by the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner and an update regarding the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

To read the April 2, 2020, information bulletin, please see the link below:

COVID-19 Update – April 2, 2020


This memorandum is current to the morning of April 2, 2020, but the pandemic and the responses of federal and provincial governments continue to evolve, and this may impact the accuracy of the information in this bulletin.

If in doubt about whether anything in this document is still current, please do not hesitate to contact us.