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B.C.’s human rights commissioner seeks more responses to survey on human rights

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s human rights commissioner says housing and poverty are among the top concerns of service and rights-related organizations across the province, but some key voices have yet to be heard.

A statement from Kasari Govender’s office says more than 400 organizations have responded to her baseline survey aimed at identifying the top three human rights issues in B.C.

She says 12 per cent of respondents put housing and shelter on their list, and eight per cent rank adequate income and poverty among the most pressing concerns.

But Govender says contributions from the Thompson-Okanagan, Cariboo, Kootenays, north coast, northeast and Nechako are missing.

She urges organizations from all regions of the province to complete the survey so her office can better understand B.C.’s human rights issues and evaluate progress.

The survey, which began May 4 and concludes June 9, is open to the leadership, staff board members, and others linked to community and public sector organizations involved in rights-related work.

Responses will aid Govender’s office in its ongoing effort to “establish a baseline from which changes in the state of human rights in B.C. can be measured, to identify priorities and advance solutions,” the statement said.

Other preliminary findings from the survey show 25 per cent of respondents say raising education and awareness across the community is one of the most successful ways of advancing human rights.

Community organization and advocating for legislative change each have the support of 18 per cent of those who answered.

At this point in the process, front-line workers make up the largest percentage of those taking part, at 36 per cent, followed by management at 19 per cent.

The statement says surveys have also been returned from groups representing a number of populations, including Indigenous or racialized people, those living with low income or poverty and people with physical disabilities or chronic illness.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2023.

The Canadian Press