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Groups target human rights legislation

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 21/02) - Labour and social advocacy groups will gather this weekend to discuss problems with the territorial government's draft human rights legislation.

"A lot of people disagreed with parts of it," said Bob Haywood, president of the Northern Territories Federation of Labour.

The federation will host the two-day meetings to discuss Bill 1, the Human Rights Act, at the Smokehouse Cafe in Ndilo on Friday and Saturday. The Friday session is for groups submitting proposals on the new act and an open educational session will be held Saturday.

Haywood has some issues with the current draft including the wording defining pay-equity, one area he sees needs to be stronger. The act needs to also address employers accommodating workers disabled by an injury on the work site, said Hawyood.

In a submission to the bill's standing committee The Status of Women Council of the NWT submitted 13 recommendations.

They include:

A good first step

Aggie Brockman executive director, the NWT Council of Persons With Disabilities, said the new act is a welcome piece of legislation.

"The big thing is having the legislation in place to begin with," said Brockman. "I think that disability-related complaints are among the highest single group of complaints."

Brockman said she'd like to see legislation that protects people's rights and is accessible. "It has to be an accessible process considering literacy levels up here," said Brockman, who is looking forward to the weekend forum.

The territorial government is conducting consultations on the new legislation for the upcoming October sitting.

Currently, the Canadian Human Rights Act governs rights within the territory.

The territory has a Fair Practices Act, but it lacks the teeth and breadth of human rights legislation.

National human rights experts will take part in discussions on the weekend. They will be available for a question and answer period held in city council chambers at city hall Saturday night.