Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, December 31, 2010 --- From July and September 2010, CRARR continued to witness an increase in the number of complaints of racial and other forms of discrimination. These cases are related to employment, union representation, public and private security, public transit, professional training, and secondary and post-secondary education.

CRARR opened 61 new files that led to 48 formal interventions (on average, 20% to 22% of callers changed their minds and dropped their case; between 7% and 10% were directed to other resources). Twenty-two complaints were filed or will be filed with the Quebec Human Rights Commission, 8 with the Police Ethics Commissioner and 2 with the Labor Relations Commission.

Eighteen (18) other actions were undertaken with other administrative and common-law tribunals. In the previous quarter, 56 new files were opened, leading to 41 formal interventions.
Employment discrimination (including union misrepresentation) and police racial profiling still remained the top two sectors in which CRARR was called upon to intervene, representing 21% and 22% respectively of all new files.

Blacks and Middle Easterners Ranked Top

Most employment cases involved Arab men as victims while almost 90% of police discrimination cases involved Black men.

The most common grounds cited in civil rights violations were race and ethnicity, representing 87% of all cases; the rest dealt with sexual orientation, social condition (poverty), family or civil status or disability.

Males constituted 62% of all new clients. Those aged between 30 and 45 made up 66% of all new clients, followed by those over 45 at 21%. Minors represented 5% of new clients. As in previous periods, youths between 18 and 30 represented less than 10% of new files.

Blacks and Middle Easterners represented the largest group of clients (49% and 21% respectively), followed by Whites at 14%. English-speaking people comprise 41% of CRARR’s new clients between June and September.

Additionally, CRARR’s lawyers provided legal representation to eight new clients in separate criminal and civil proceedings in which equality was a key component (including two cases of sexual orientation-related cases involving questionable police actions. Note that these data do not include legal representation for clients with problems not related to discrimination).

Emerging Areas of Discrimination

During this third quarter, CRARR received a noticeable increase in complaints involving the professional training sector (including the provincial agency Emploi-Québec) and housing.

In the training sector, complaints point to serious failures or inabilities of several public colleges and school boards, mostly in the French-language sector, that either acted in an openly arbitrary and discriminatory manner, or failed to address allegations of bias when they arose. Most institutions identified by these complaints only have superficial statements on fairness and diversity, and they have few or no concrete internal mechanisms to respond to complaints of discrimination.

Emploi-Québec has also emerged as an object of complaints from permanent residents who are channeled into professional training or retraining programs. Many callers (not all of which resulted in formal complaints filed with official agencies) claimed that both staff conduct and institutional practices or policies have an adverse impact on racialized individuals. Another contradictory reality: While immigrants are categorized as a special needs group under provincial policy, some training measures do not acknowledge nor seek to counteract their disadvantaged position in the labour market.

In light of the link between immigration, skills development and retraining, and employment, we expect an increase in complaints of racial and ethnic discrimination lodged against these institutions, especially where vocational and technical training is concerned.

Housing is also emerging as an area with civil rights challenges. Based on research undertaken with different groups in other Canadian provinces, CRARR has identified systemic barriers in provincial social housing laws and regulations that even contravene the equality clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In 2011, some of these issues will be brought to public attention and probably litigated.

International students facing predatory apartment rental practices have been identified as a major problem by the Concordia Student Union (CSU). Many are exposed to abusive and illegal practices such as requiring advance rent payments (ranging from two to six months); sub-standard housing conditions; and requiring copies of passports and visas. With the CSU’s Housing and Job Service and Legal Information Clinic, CRARR has begun to document cases, involving predatory landlords in the downtown core, to bring to the human rights and privacy commissions for civil rights violations. It is expected that similar actions will be extended to the three other local universities, which altogether attract more than 10,000 international students to Montreal.

These developments have led to the creation of a new CRARR fair housing initiativethrough which CRARR will develop civil rights advocacy strategies, focusing on systemic discrimination in housing. Modeled after US fair housing litigation approaches, the initiative will be launched in late 2010 or early 2011.