The Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms

Answers to Questionnaire

1. No, in the context offtee public education.  Users could be made to contribute if not within the free public education system.

The Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (section 40), provides for the right toffee public education, to the extent provided by law.  The Education Act determines those conditions under which free public education will be provided.  To put it simply, free public education covers primary and secondary education.  It therefore would be illegal to require all the parents in a public school to contribute to financing the new automotive workshops.  However, people who are using the workshop in the course of professional training that is not in the context of the free public education program could be made to contribute financially to the setting-up of the workshop.

2. The freedom to have one's opinions and the freedom to express those opinions (Section 3 of the Quebec Charter) are among the most valued and important fundamental rights in our society.

Young people in schools have these fundamental rights and should insist on having these rights acknowledged and respected.  However, no right is absolute.  All rights must be exercised taking into account the rights of others.  It may be that the expression of certain opinions constitutes an infringement on the rights of others.  Freedom of expression should be exercised taking into account the rights of others.  In the present example, the right of people over 70 years of age to the safeguard of their dignity (Section 4 of the Quebec Charter) would possibly be infringed.  Depending on the virulence of the article, it could constitute a proposition capable of encouraging violence against elderly people.  Students, as all other citizens, should refrain from the expression of opinions which could infringe upon the rights of others.

3. Discrimination based on religion is prohibited (Section IO of the Quebec Charter).  Apparently neutral rules in institutions can sometimes have indirect discriminatory effects.  To avoid discrimination, education institutions must find a way to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of their students by allowing them to write their exams on a day other than that of a religious holiday.

4. Home address and phone number come within the students' right to the respect of their private life (Section 5 of the Quebec Charter) that the school must respect.  On the other hand, there is a right for the victims of an illegal act to seek redress.  The Quebec Act Respecting Access to Documents Held by Public Bodies and the Protection of personal Information provides, as an exception to the rule that the school should not divulge personal information concerning students or their family, that the victim can have access to that information if a complaint is made to the police.

5. Young people too have the right to the respect of their reputation (Section 4 of the Quebec Charter).  Allusions about a person's life or past actions can sometimes tarnish their image and reputation.  All persons have the right to have their reputations maintained and their private life respected.

6. Every person who works has a right to conditions of employ ment which have the Proper regard for their health safety and well-being (Section46 of the Quebec Charter).  Furthermore, all workers are protected by the dispositions of the Act concerning health and safe in the workplace.The student employed would probably have a recourse to a government agency, the Commission de la sante et de la security du travail, which could order the owner to repair the ventilation and to return the employee to her job.

7. Young people have the right to the protection of their private life (Section 5 of the Quebec Charter).  When the school assigns a locker to a student, it should consider it as the student's private domain and refrain from violating this privacy.  However, this does not mean that, for legitimate reasons and in certain specified circumstances, school authorities may not open a student's locker, if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the locker is being used by that student for illegal purposes or in ways that could harm others.

8. Discrimination based on social condition is prohibited (Section I 0 of the Charter).  Income being an important indicator of social condition, to exclude students whose parents did not have a certain level of income would be a discriminatory policy.

9. Every human being whose life is in peril has a right to assistance (Section 2 of the Quebec Charter).  The same section goes on to say that everyone has an obligation to immediately help someone whose life is in danger, either directly or by obtaining assistance.  However, one is not obliged to put one's self or others at risk in doing so.

10. Young people, as all other persons, have the right to a - hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal (Section 23 of the Quebec Charter).  Judges must be neutral and objective and must be perceived so.  In this case, it would be reasonable to conclude that the judge should decline to hear the case and ask to be replaced by another judge.

11.  NO. Young people too have the right to information (Section 44 of the Quebec Charter).  A student and his parents have the right to the information which the school has in his file, including letters written concerning him.  Should the person at the school board responsible for the access to information deny access, recourse could be had to the Commission d'access d l'information, an agency set up under the Act Respecting Access to Documents Held by Public Bodies and the Protection of personal Information;

12. As all other persons, young people have the right to non-disclosure of confidential information (Section 9 of the Quebec Charter).  Personal information in the hands of a professional (lawyer, nurse, doctor, etc.) is confidential information.  The school nurse must respect the student's right to professional secrecy even toward the student's parents, if the student is over the age of 14 (Section 18 of the Quebec Civil Code).  However, with the student's consent, the nurse could discuss this with her parents. However, if the health care given involves serious risks for the minor (ie, a person under 18 years of age) and if it may cause her grave and permanent effects, the parents are required to give their consent to the care.

13. Discrimination based on civil status, which includes family ties, is prohibited (Section IO of the Quebec Charter).  Municipalities, companies and other organizations cannot have blanket policies prefer or exclude their employee's children and relatives from jobs (nor could they have a policy which would favour them).

They must, however, avoid conflict of interest in cases where the parent would directly supervise the student's work, for example.

14. YES.  Discrimination based on age is prohibited, except as provided bv law (Section IO of the Quebec Charter).  The law requires the minimum age of 18 in order to be allowed into licensed establishments.  Once over 18, no further age restrictions can apply.

15. Discrimination based on handicap or the use of a means to palliate a handicap (here, a wheelchair) is prohibited (Section 10 of the Quebec Charter).  Education being a basic right, schools must be made accessible to the all students for whom they are responsible, including handicapped students.  The school must find a way, for example through renovations or personal service, to allow equal access to handicapped students.

16. Discrimination based on sex and age is prohibited (Section I 0 of the Quebec Charter).  However, there is an important exception to this rule in the area of insurance contracts, if the insurer can prove that he bases the otherwise prohibited distinction or exclusion on objective actuarial data that establishes a link between the sex of drivers and risks involved.

This is one of the few exceptions to the prohibition of discrimination based on sex.

17. This behaviour, while meant as humorous, could constitute harassment based on a physical disability, which is prohibited (Sections 10 and 10.  I of the Quebec Charter).  This is discriminatory and constitutes an infringement on the disabled student's right to the safeguard of his or her dignity (Section Section 4 of the Quebec Charter).

18. Discrimination based on language is prohibited (Section 10 of the Quebec Charter).  A school can legitimately impose language standards during instruction periods and activities which are related to the school program.

However, the school should not impose limits on the freedom of expression of students during recess or outside the school grounds.

19. The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jelinesse has the responsibility of investigating complaints of discrimination and harassment on many grounds other than race. indeed, section 10 of the Quebec Charter lists many different grounds of discrimination or harassment.  They are

sexual orientation
civil status
age, except as provided by law
political convictions
ethnic or national origin
social condition
handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap.

If after investigation the Commission cannot settle the case to the satisfaction of the complainant, it can take the problem to court if there are indications of discriminatory behavior or policy.

The Commisssion des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Quebec also offers a wide variety of services to youth.  It investigates complaints under the Youth Protection Act when it receives information that the rights of children or youths in protective care or in the 'judicial system have been infringed.

Young people, their families, friends or neighbors may lodge a complaint.

20. The Quebec Human Rights Tribunal can also award compensation for material damages, i.e. money lost as a result of discriminatory acts, such as lost wages.  In addition, it may award moral damages.  Moreover, if the discrimination was intentional, exemplary (punitive) damages, aimed at dissuading others who could be tempted to have a similar discriminatory behavior, could be awarded (Section 49 of the Quebec Charter).