With the passage of Bill C-16, history was made in June 2017 with both gender identity and gender expression now federally protected grounds in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada. This is a significant step forward for the protection and legal recognition of trans and gender diverse communities in Canada.
Here is a video from Egale Canada explaining the Bill:
It was a long time coming however, as exactly 11 years earlier NDP MP Bill Siksay introduced a similar private members’ bill—which did not pass—and tried unsuccessfully again on two other occasions to resurrect the bill.
The House of Commons passed a subsequent bill (Bill C-279) introduced by NDP MP Randall Garrison in 2015—who had agreed however to withdraw the words “gender expression” from the bill in order to ensure its passage. However, after much debate and public hearings in the Senate, the bill died when Parliament was dissolved prior to the 2015 election
In reality, it was Canadian provinces that led the way for the trans rights legislation in Canada—with most legislation being passed between 2012 and 2017. Today, all provinces and territories in Canada include gender identity in their human rights codes. However three jurisdictions (MB; SK, NT) do not specifically cover gender expression.
Here is a chart to summarize the human rights protections for each jurisdiction in Canada:
|Territory/Province of Canada||Sexual orientation||Gender identity||Gender expression|
|Canada (federal)||Yes (Since 1996)||Yes (Since 2017)||Yes (Since 2017)|
|Northwest Territories||Yes (Since 2002)||Yes (Since 2002)||No|
|Nunavut||Yes (Since 1999)||Yes (Since 2017)||Yes (Since 2017)|
|Yukon||Yes (Since 1987)||Yes (Since 2017)||Yes (Since 2017)|
|British Columbia||Yes (Since 1992)||Yes (Since 2016)||Yes (Since 2016)|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||Yes (Since 1995)||Yes (Since 2013)||Yes (Since 2013)|
|Alberta||Yes (Since 2009)||Yes (Since 2015)||Yes (Since 2015)|
|Quebec||Yes (Since 1977)||Yes (Since 2016)||Yes (Since 2016)|
|Prince Edward Island||Yes (Since 1998)||Yes (Since 2013)||Yes (Since 2013)|
|Manitoba||Yes (Since 1987)||Yes (Since 2012)||Yes/No (not explicitly included but implicitly included since at least 2016)|
|New Brunswick||Yes (Since 1992)||Yes (Since 2017)||Yes (Since 2017)|
|Nova Scotia||Yes (Since 1991)||Yes (Since 2012)||Yes (Since 2012)|
|Saskatchewan||Yes (Since 1993)||Yes (Since 2014)||No|
|Ontario||Yes (Since 1986)||Yes (Since 2012)||Yes (Since 2012)|
Salerno, Rob (April 28, 2017). “New Brunswick trans-rights bills pass final reading”. Daily Xtra. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
Salerno, Rob (June 14, 2017). “Yukon passes trans-rights bill”. Daily Xtra. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
“Bill No. 5 – Act to Amend the Human Rights Act and the Vital Statistics Act (2017)” (PDF). Legislative Assembly of Yukon. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
Part I – The context: sexual orientation, human rights protections, case law and legislation
An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code
Nunavut passes trans-rights law
Transgender changes to B.C. Human Rights Code pass unanimously
HUMAN RIGHTS, CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURALISM AMENDMENT ACT, 2009
An Act to strengthen the fight against transphobia and improve the situation of transgender minors in particular
P.E.I. transgender community applauds ID changes
Overview of LGBT Human Rights in Canada
Manitoba Human Rights Commission
An Act to Amend Chapter 214 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Human Rights Act, to Protect the Rights of Transgendered Persons
Saskatchewan amends human rights code
Gender identity and gender expression
Bill 33, Toby’s Act (Right to be Free from Discrimination and Harassment Because of Gender Identity or Gender Expression), 2012