The Commission caseload

The Commission receives relatively few complaints citing family status as a ground of discrimination. In the fiscal year ending 2003/2004, 120 complaints citing family status were filed with Commission, just under five percent of the 2450 complaints filed that year. This is similar to numbers from previous years. In 2002/2003, 102 complaints related to family status were filed, at just under six percent of the total complaints filed, and in 2001/2002, 112 complaints related to family status were filed, at five percent of the total complaints. The reason for this relatively low number of family status complaints is unclear: possibly it may be related to the general lack of awareness of human rights protections related to family status or to the Commission’s lack of a formal policy framework for responding to these complaints.

As is true of all Code grounds, the majority of the family status complaints filed are in the social area of employment. Over the past four years, around two-thirds of all family status complaints have been in the area of employment. However, family status complaints related to employment generally make up less than five percent of all employment related complaints. Issues raised include the duty of employers to accommodate family responsibilities, policies and practices that may create systemic barriers to individuals with caregiving responsibilities, bias on the basis of family status, and nepotism and anti-nepotism policies.

On average, about 30 percent of family status complaints relate to housing. Complaints citing family status have historically made up a very significant number of the complaints received in the area of housing. For example, in 2002/2003, of the 82 complaints related to housing, 32, or almost 40 percent, cited family status. Family status has generally been the 2nd or 3rd most commonly cited ground in the area of housing. The number of family status complaints related to housing appears to have dropped dramatically in 2003/2004, but it is not clear whether this is a statistical anomaly or a trend. Most of the complaints received related to family status and housing allege a direct refusal to rent to families with children. The Commission has also received complaints related to occupancy guidelines, harassment because of childrens’ noise, and unequal access to facilities.

What are the roles of the Commission, government, and other actors in resolving the issues raised in this Paper?

What can the Commission do to raise public awareness about human rights issues related to family status and to more effectively combat discrimination based on family status?

[24] The Commission is required by statute to produce an Annual Report to government on its activities. These reports are a valuable source of information on complaints to the Commission. They are available online at