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Posts Tagged "human"

10Sep

Art too sexy for this bar? Human rights complaint launched over decor

by admin

Jasmine Mooney is a successful entrepreneur who owns three Vancouver bars – but lately she’s been defending her taste in art.

Five employees from the Hotel Belmont have launched a human rights complaint over what they contend is an unsafe work environment, caused by what’s on the bar walls.

A large print of a nude woman bent over a muscle car hangs in The Basement, Mooney’s watering hole in the hotel’s lower level. There are also bright neon outlines of a naked woman and man outside the washrooms.

The employees do not work for Mooney, but in other departments in the hotel.

They sought aid from Union Here, the same group that helped employees of the Hotel Georgia launch a sexual harassment claim.

“My reaction was that it was very grotesque and offensive to women,” said Sharan Pawa, spokesperson for Union Here local 40. “The excuse for these images is that they are just trendy and fun, but we don’t think that it’s appropriate because fun doesn’t equate to sexualizing women.”

The F-word is also prominently displayed twice the main bar area, and drawings of dozens of breasts are on the washroom’s ceiling.

Mooney says she choose the artwork herself and does not find it offensive.

”It’s edgy and it’s out there and it’s different” she said. “That’s the thing with art, it’s so subjective.”

She argues similar works are displayed in galleries all over the world, and they are revered by critics.

Her intention was to design a fun establishment that reminds people of the 1950s and their parents basement. The décor is bright. It has a bowling alley, arcade and jelly bean dispensers.

Mooney said minors will never be permitted inside, and none of her employees have complained to her.

“Absolutely not. No, we go above and beyond to ensure our staff are comfortable and secure,” she insisted.

27Aug

Human rights complaint dismissed after man with sex addiction banned from yoga studio

by admin

A man who says he has a sex addiction had his human rights complaint dismissed after alleging he was discriminated against when he was banned from a White Rock yoga studio.

According to a BC Human Rights Tribunal application to dismiss, Erik Rutherford said he attended classes at Westcoast Hot Yoga for over 10 years. When he asked for coaching services from one of the studio’s employees who has her own outside business, however, he was turned down. 

Background in the dismissal application says Rutherford had told the coach “he was seeking help with sex addiction,” but the coach said this wasn’t her field of expertise. He also opened up to other staff about his former experiences with addiction.

Rutherford added that he had reached out to the coach “out of trust as she had offered her health coaching business to me as she had male clients from our studio, but admittedly I contacted her partly due to my mental disability as she is an attractive healthy woman.”

After asking for coaching help and telling staff about his addiction background, Rutherford alleges he was discriminated against by staff, saying they looked at him differently, gossiped about him and eventually wouldn’t let him take yoga classes at the studio. 

The yoga studio, however, said their decision to not allow Rutherford to attend classes anymore had nothing to do with his mental health. 

Instead, Westcoast told the tribunal that Rutherford “began phoning, texting and emailing Westcoast staff at all hours, making staff and some clients uncomfortable,” after his coaching request was denied. 

The yoga studio went on to say that the reason he was asked to practice somewhere else was because he didn’t “stop harassing (them) with emails and false accusations against teachers.” The yoga studio even went so far as to speak to police for help. 

Tribunal documents show that, on May 13, 2018, Rutherford sent an email to the yoga studio, stating he had talked to his 12-step advisor about the situation. 

“My main thing is alcohol but only on vacation,” the email said. “My main issue is internet or cyber pornography that is not related to the studio. If I am paying for yoga, kindly tell your instructors to not silently judge.”

The next day, Rutherford attended a yoga class and later that afternoon, got an email response from the studio. 

“I have had some very upset conversations this morning from my staff, in regards to voice messages left late last night and also teachers receiving messages from you late last night,” the email to Rutherford said. 

“On Saturday I did have a lady concerned about you staring constantly in class … it makes people very uncomfortable, and your constant approaching (the coach) at all hours, and sharing your personal issues has made her and some other staff after your message very uncomfortable.”

The email went on to say that Rutherford’s recently purchased class pass would be refunded. 

“Please do not send any further messages to all these parties, or there will need to have the police involved,” the email said. 

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has the authority to apply for a complaint to be dismissed before it goes to a hearing, particularly if the tribunal member feels the complaint doesn’t “warrant the time or expense of a hearing.” In this case, tribunal member Emily Ohler explained she did not think Rutherford’s complaint would succeed. 

Rutherford responded, saying his “disease is spiritual, mental, physical and social and financially void disease with many different facets and can easily display itself in sexual manifestations especially when abstaining from drugs and alcohol.” 

He went on to say he hasn’t “used the dangerous chemicals since early 2003.”

However, when Rutherford spoke to a doctor to get a diagnosis for his mental health issues and submit a letter to the tribunal, the doctor did not supply a diagnosis. Instead, wrote that Rutherford “does not always recognize personal boundaries,” adding that “he was more likely barred because of some behaviour that either annoyed, scared or offended an instructor.”

In her decision, Ohler said she was “reasonably certain” the yoga studio would be able to prove in a hearing “that continuing to allow Mr. Rutherford to practice yoga at its studio in the circumstances would constitute undue hardship.” 

27Aug

Man with sex addiction banned from yoga studio; human rights complaint dismissed

by admin

A man who says he has a sex addiction had his human rights complaint dismissed after alleging he was discriminated against when he was banned from a White Rock yoga studio.

According to a BC Human Rights Tribunal application to dismiss, Erik Rutherford said he attended classes at Westcoast Hot Yoga for over 10 years. When he asked for coaching services from one of the studio’s employees who has her own outside business, however, he was turned down. 

Background in the dismissal application says Rutherford had told the coach “he was seeking help with sex addiction,” but the coach said this wasn’t her field of expertise. He also opened up to other staff about his former experiences with addiction.

Rutherford added that he had reached out to the coach “out of trust as she had offered her health coaching business to me as she had male clients from our studio, but admittedly I contacted her partly due to my mental disability as she is an attractive healthy woman.”

After asking for coaching help and telling staff about his addiction background, Rutherford alleges he was discriminated against by staff, saying they looked at him differently, gossiped about him and eventually wouldn’t let him take yoga classes at the studio. 

The yoga studio, however, said their decision to not allow Rutherford to attend classes anymore had nothing to do with his mental health. 

Instead, Westcoast told the tribunal that Rutherford “began phoning, texting and emailing Westcoast staff at all hours, making staff and some clients uncomfortable,” after his coaching request was denied. 

The yoga studio went on to say that the reason he was asked to practice somewhere else was because he didn’t “stop harassing (them) with emails and false accusations against teachers.” The yoga studio even went so far as to speak to police for help. 

Tribunal documents show that, on May 13, 2018, Rutherford sent an email to the yoga studio, stating he had talked to his 12-step advisor about the situation. 

“My main thing is alcohol but only on vacation,” the email said. “My main issue is internet or cyber pornography that is not related to the studio. If I am paying for yoga, kindly tell your instructors to not silently judge.”

The next day, Rutherford attended a yoga class and later that afternoon, got an email response from the studio. 

“I have had some very upset conversations this morning from my staff, in regards to voice messages left late last night and also teachers receiving messages from you late last night,” the email to Rutherford said. 

“On Saturday I did have a lady concerned about you staring constantly in class … it makes people very uncomfortable, and your constant approaching (the coach) at all hours, and sharing your personal issues has made her and some other staff after your message very uncomfortable.”

The email went on to say that Rutherford’s recently purchased class pass would be refunded. 

“Please do not send any further messages to all these parties, or there will need to have the police involved,” the email said. 

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has the authority to apply for a complaint to be dismissed before it goes to a hearing, particularly if the tribunal member feels the complaint doesn’t “warrant the time or expense of a hearing.” In this case, tribunal member Emily Ohler explained she did not think Rutherford’s complaint would succeed. 

Rutherford responded, saying his “disease is spiritual, mental, physical and social and financially void disease with many different facets and can easily display itself in sexual manifestations especially when abstaining from drugs and alcohol.” 

He went on to say he hasn’t “used the dangerous chemicals since early 2003.”

However, when Rutherford spoke to a doctor to get a diagnosis for his mental health issues and submit a letter to the tribunal, the doctor did not supply a diagnosis. Instead, wrote that Rutherford “does not always recognize personal boundaries,” adding that “he was more likely barred because of some behaviour that either annoyed, scared or offended an instructor.”

In her decision, Ohler said she was “reasonably certain” the yoga studio would be able to prove in a hearing “that continuing to allow Mr. Rutherford to practice yoga at its studio in the circumstances would constitute undue hardship.” 

3Jul

Illegal Airbnb hostel operator’s human rights complaint dismissed

by admin

Alyse Kotyk, CTV News Vancouver


Published Wednesday, July 3, 2019 1:24PM PDT


Last Updated Wednesday, July 3, 2019 1:33PM PDT

A North Vancouver townhouse owner whose strata tried to shut down her 15-bed Airbnb rental has had a human rights complaint denied.

Emily Yu filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal alleging her strata violated her rights when it told her she was breaking their bylaw by running a short term rental out of her home.

In her complaint, Yu said the strata’s demand discriminated against her disability, which she said requires her to rent out her unit for income. 

However, tribunal member Devyn Cousineau cited a previous Supreme Court decision on the same dispute that said there was not enough evidence of a mental disability. 

“There is a one-paragraph letter from what appears to be a general practitioner, which states that she has long-term post-concussion issues and ongoing disability. This is simply, not enough, in my view,” the Supreme Court judge’s decision from 2018 says.

Cousineau’s decision released on June 26 said the B.C. Human Rights Code allows the tribunal to dismiss a complaint that “has been appropriately dealt with in another proceeding.” She pointed out that this was not the first time Yu and her strata had filed formal complaints against each other.

In 2017, following an application from her strata, Yu was ordered by the Civil Resolution Tribunal to shut down her rental, known as the “Oasis Hostel” operating out of her townhouse on 13th Avenue near Chesterfield Avenue.

“The owner used (the unit) as an ‘Airbnb’ unit since at least May 2016, whereby she rented out as many as 15 beds and (had) up to 20 short-term boarders at any one time,” the CRT decision says. 

“The Airbnb use is not disputed and is supported by various witness statements and documentary evidence, including ‘Craigslist’ ads provided to the tribunal, with the owner apparently charging between $50 and $102 per night for each bed.” 

Background information in the CRT decision also noted that Yu never had a business licence with the City of North Vancouver and that the city had ordered her to stop running the Airbnb on multiple occasions as it went against its bylaws. 

As a result of the CRT’s decision, Yu was fined $4,600 for running the Airbnb. That’s when the matter came before the Supreme Court, when Yu tried to appeal CRT’s decision. However, in 2018, she lost. 

In the case of the recent human rights complaint, Cousineau felt Yu’s issue had already been adequately dealt with by CRT and the Supreme Court and could not “support the re-litigation of the same issue.”  


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26Jun

Notorious illegal hostel owner has human rights complaint dismissed | CBC News

by admin

A North Vancouver woman who was repeatedly ordered to shut down her illegal 15-bed hostel won’t get another chance to argue she needs the extra income because she’s disabled.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has declined to hear Emily Yu’s complaint alleging discrimination by her townhouse strata, saying the issue had already been dealt with by the Civil Resolution Tribunal and the B.C. Supreme Court.

“I can see no principled reason to allow her to re‐litigate the same issue again, this time in a different forum. As the Supreme Court of Canada has said: ‘Forum shopping for a different and better result can be dressed up in many attractive adjectives, but fairness is not among them,'” tribunal member Devyn Cousineau wrote in Wednesday’s decision.

Yu’s strata, the City of North Vancouver and the courts have all told Yu to stop booking short-term guests for her three-bedroom townhouse. She was advertising up to 15 beds in the “Oasis Hostel” on sites like Airbnb, iBooked.ca and TripAdvisor.

The operation violated strata bylaws, and the city described it as a nuisance and a fire hazard.

In April, Yu was fined $5,000 for contempt of court after she refused to abide by an order of the Civil Resolution Tribunal and continued to rent out the beds.

But Yu told the human rights tribunal that she needed the extra income because she has a disability.

She said she planned to raise new issues that “could potentially affect many marginalized women” and said dismissing her complaint would result in a “miscarriage of justice,” according to Wednesday’s decision.

As Cousineau pointed out, however, Yu had previously raised the disability issue when she tried to appeal the Civil Resolution Tribunal decision in B.C. Supreme Court.

As part of her appeal, she submitted an affidavit and portions of a psychiatric assessment outlining her disabilities, which appear to include post-concussion problems, but the judge said there was “insufficient evidence” of a mental disability that would justify her continued violation of the strata bylaw.

Yu’s strata applied to the court last year, asking for an order forcing Yu to sell her unit, but the judge has yet to make a decision on that, calling it a “remedy of last resort.”

Airbnb has suspended Yu and her listing is no longer available on TripAdvisor.

 


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12Jun

Atheist nurse’s fight against mandatory AA will go before B.C. Human Rights Tribunal | CBC News

by admin

A B.C. nurse who lost his job when he refused to attend a 12-step program for addiction will get a chance to argue he was discriminated against as an atheist.

Byron Wood contends Alcoholic Anonymous’s emphasis on placing your life in the hands of a higher power simply won’t work for someone who doesn’t hold any religious beliefs.

That’s an argument worth considering, according to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. On Wednesday, it denied Vancouver Coastal Health’s application to dismiss Wood’s complaint alleging discimination on the basis of religion. 

“The tribunal has not [previously] considered whether the 12‐step program utilized by Alcoholics  Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous … may discriminate against persons with substance abuse disorders who are atheists,” tribunal member Walter Rilkoff wrote.

“In my view, there is a public interest in addressing that issue.”

If Wood was indeed a victim of discrimination, the tribunal will also have to decide what steps his employer would need to take to accommodate his lack of belief.

In the same decision, the tribunal also dismissed Wood’s complaint that he was discriminated on the basis of a mental disability — specifically, addiction — as well as parallel complaints against his union.

In an email to CBC, Wood expressed hope about the prospect of arguing his case before the tribunal.

“At a hearing, I will have the opportunity to introduce expert testimony from addiction experts,” he wrote.

“I’m hoping that eventually the courts will favour the evidence of experts who have a current, science-based understanding of substance use disorders. Only then will employers be forced to change their policies.”

No alternatives

Wood was diagnosed with substance use disorder after a psychotic break landed him in the psychiatric ward at Vancouver General Hospital in the fall of 2013. His professional college was informed, along with his union and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), his employer at the time.

He was referred to an addictions specialist, who created a plan that Wood would need to follow if he wanted to return to work. AA was a mandatory component of that plan.

Wood lost his job as a nurse after refusing to continue with Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. (Bethany Lindsay/CBC)

Wood suggested alternatives to the 12 steps, including secular support groups and counselling, but his doctor rejected them, according to emails provided to CBC. 

He also asked for a referral to a new doctor, but his union informed him that it only uses addictions specialists who follow the 12-step model, the emails show.

He says the AA meetings didn’t help, but he lost his job as well as his registration as a nurse when he stopped going.

Researchers who’ve spoken to CBC about Wood’s story say it’s not unusual in Canada, and nurses are regularly required to attend 12-step programs in the interest of protecting public safety.

Medical opinions can be discriminatory

In its submissions to the tribunal, VCH argued the treatment plan designed for Wood was reasonable and supported by medical experts. 

But Rilkoff said expert opinions weren’t enough.

“Relying on medical opinions is not a sufficient defence if the medical recommendations are themselves discriminatory … VCH cannot avoid liability if it relies on discriminatory advice,” the decision says.

The 12 steps require members to “turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him,” admit their faults and make amends with those they’ve hurt.

Many people who have recovered from addiction say AA was instrumental in their success.

But scientists who study addiction have long questioned the overall effectiveness of AA. In recent decades, numerous evidence-based pharmaceutical treatments have been developed for addiction, along with non-religious programs like SMART Recovery and LifeRing Secular Recovery.

For his part, Wood says he’s had great success using a drug called naltrexone, which blocks the intoxicating effects of alcohol and opiates. It’s an option he says he wasn’t offered while he was still employed as a nurse.


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5Jun

’Non-trivial dose’: UVic study tries to estimate human consumption of microplastics

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A blue rectangular piece of microplastic is visible on a researcher’s finger on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 in Tacoma, Wash. New research suggests North Americans eat, drink and inhale tens of thousands of tiny plastic particles every year.


Ted S. Warren / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

New research suggests North Americans eat, drink and inhale tens of thousands of tiny plastic particles every year.

University of Victoria biologist Kieran Cox, whose paper was published Wednesday, says what his study shows most clearly is how little is known about the extent or impact of microplastics in people.

“The last thing I want to do is cause some sort of undue alarm over plastics,” he said.

“But even if we’re considering what I would call a pretty limited literature, we’re getting into hundreds of thousands (of particles) a year. That’s a non-trivial dose.”

Microplastics range in size from microscopic to a grain of rice. They are produced when plastic items of all kinds break down in the environment.

The subject of a growing body of research, they have been detected in oceans, on land and in air. Cox’s study is one of the first to try to estimate their presence in humans.

“If you tell people more facts surrounding microplastics in the ocean, they don’t seem perturbed by it,” he said. “But if you tell them there’s a small piece of plastic in their food, they’re really connected to that.”

Cox and his colleagues began by tracking down every study they could that estimated the plastics load in commonly consumed items of food and drink. Although they found nothing on meat and vegetables, they found 26 studies on fish, shellfish, sugar additives, salts and beer as well as on bottled and tap water.

They estimated how much of those items would be consumed by an average North American following something close to American food guidelines.

The calculated plastics dose those food items were introducing was between 39,000 to 52,000 microplastics particles a year into every individual. Female children were at the low end; adult males were at the high.


(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 17, 2015 shows a Chinese labourer sorting out plastic bottles for recycling in Dong Xiao Kou village, on the outskirt of Beijing.

FRED DUFOUR /

AFP/Getty Images

The totals could be higher. Someone who drinks mostly bottled water could be gulping down an extra 90,000 pieces yearly.

Nor does that include microplastics in air. Breathing introduces another 35,000 to 69,000 particles.

And because that estimate only includes about 15 per cent of average caloric intake, Cox said it’s likely to be conservative.

“I would say the likelihood that it’s an underestimate of your total consumption over the year is pretty high.”

Much remains unknown.

Cox didn’t find any studies on microplastics in meats, fruits, vegetables or alcoholic drinks except beer. The pathways into food and humans are varied and ill-understood, he said.

“You can think about the middle of the grocery store — you walk through all those middle aisles and the vast majority of those items are going to be wrapped in plastic. Everyone can take a survey of their day and think about the items that they’re consuming that have a lot of plastic in them.”

The health impacts of microplastics are also mysterious.

Some plastics — BPA, for example, which disrupts endocrine function — are harmful in themselves. There is also evidence they can carry other toxins. Many particles are small enough to pass through cell membranes.

It calls out for more research, Cox said.

“We have this dose. What does it mean?”

Related


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2May

B.C. study finds no mental health benefits to eating human placenta

by admin

New research debunks the supposed mental health benefits of eating your own placenta.

UBC and the B.C. Mental Health and Substance Use Services’ Research Institute says their study found no difference in the mental health of mothers who had eaten their placenta versus those who had not.

The data came from a 10-year genetic study involving 138 women with a history of mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder. Lead investigator Jehannine Austin says the comparison took into account a mother’s psychiatric diagnosis, medication use, age and income.


A woman grinds dehydrated human placenta.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

She says moms who had consumed their placenta did not have more energy, had no increase in their vitamin B12 levels, and required no less help breastfeeding than those who had not consumed their placentas. She adds that eating one’s placenta also did not appear to worsen mental health.

Nevertheless, Austin discourages the practice in light of Health Canada’s warning late last year that it could lead to bacterial or viral infections in mothers or their babies.

Austin’s study was published online Thursday in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada.

Proponents of human placenta preparations believe it helps prevent postpartum depression, overcome anemia, increase energy levels and boost breast milk production.


In this file photo taken on November 3, 2018, Kim Kardashian-West arrives for the 2018 LACMA Art+Film Gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, California.

CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty Images

Celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Alicia Silverstone and Hilary Duff are among the famous moms who have popularized the trend, in which the organ is sometimes dehydrated and put into capsules, but it has drawn increasing scrutiny in the medical community.

“People are taking them because they see celebrities in the news doing it and they talk about their experience with doing it and so other women think, ‘Oh that sounds like a good idea,”‘ said Austin, executive director of the research institute and a professor in medicine at UBC.

“But the point that we’re trying to really make, having analyzed our data, is that there’s no evidence from our study to suggest that this actually helps in any way.

“It doesn’t help with mood, it doesn’t help with energy, it doesn’t help with nutrition levels and it doesn’t help with breastfeeding.”


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18Mar

Rob Shaw: NDP government ‘reviewing’ a basic human right for girls

by admin

VICTORIA — Annie Ohana was in her classroom at L.A. Matheson high school in Surrey last week, when an all-too-common scene played out. A young woman ducked into her room after the final bell rang and quietly asked: “Ms. Ohana, do you have a tampon or pad?”

“Teachers at schools and counsellors, especially as women, we do often keep a little stash of products,” said Ohana.

So Ohana, the Aboriginal department head at the school, gladly reached into her own supply to help out. It made the difference between the student being able to stay at school for her extracurricular activities, or having to leave.

“She was volunteering for something, but instead of going home because of her period, she was able to ask me,” said Ohana. “I was able to provide it, but that’s my own money …  the system should provide it. In this case I was there, but what if I was gone?”

It’s a question increasingly being asked by teachers, parents, students and advocates in hundreds of schools across the province. Why is there no provincial funding to provide free tampons and pads for female students in school washrooms?

Instead, B.C. has a patchwork system that varies from school to school and often results in embarrassment and shame for female students.

Some districts put coin-operated dispensers in women’s bathrooms (requiring girls to have exact change to get a pad or tampon while bleeding and in need). Others schools have literally nothing. In some cases, like in Burnaby North Secondary, students have taken it upon themselves to organize free baskets of products in washrooms because nobody else will do it for them.

Some schools do offer free tampons or pads — but only if the student interrupts her teacher in class, asks to be excused in front of all her classmates, walks to the office, waits in the queue at the front desk and then asks the (possibly male) receptionist in front of everyone else sitting in that office if she can please have a tampon thank-you-very-much. You couldn’t create a more cumbersome and humiliating system if you tried.


L.A. Matheson teacher Annie Ohana.

Mark van Manen /

PNG

Some girls can’t afford to buy their own products. And there’s cultural and social stigmas around menstruation that can leave young women, at a difficult time in their life, isolated from family and friends. It’s even more difficult if the student is transgender. The very least the education system could do is offer them a discreet, free, and easy way to get a tampon or pad from every school washroom, without having to ask.

One in seven Canadian girls have missed school because they couldn’t get a tampon or pad during their period, according to a Procter & Gamble survey.

The issue was raised at the legislature by Green Leader Andrew Weaver during International Women’s Day. He based his question on a suggestion from one of his staff members, Stephanie Siddon.

Education Minister Rob Fleming responded by pointing to community grant programs that schools could try to tap, while offering to conduct more research into the issue.

It was an unimpressive display of leadership, said Weaver.

“There are some things that you just think about for 30 seconds and you realize, yeah that just makes sense,” said Weaver. “Here we are in 2019. You just do it. This falls into that. … “I would have thought he’d just have done it.”

Weaver’s own quick calculations — done in the middle of an interview using public pricing for hygiene products — pegged the rough cost at $200,000 a month for the education system, or $2.4 million a year to give more than 260,000 enrolled female students access to tampons and pads.

That amounts to a “rounding error” in the ministry’s $6.5-billion annual budget that should be acted upon without wasting time researching further, said Weaver.

New Westminster became one of the first school districts in Canada to fully fund feminine hygiene products when it voted last month to spend $10,000 of its own operating budget on dispensers and $7,000 annually to stock them with free supplies for women.

The issue is also on agendas for school trustees in Surrey, Greater Victoria, Cariboo-Chilcotin, Burnaby and Vancouver.

School districts are charging forward on their own, while the province lags behind.

The government could save time and effort by simply listening to advocates like Douglas College professor Selina Tribe, who has been clear, consistent and vocal about the issue for months.

Or Sussanne Skidmore, the secretary-treasurer of the B.C. Federation of Labour who is helping lead the United Way’s Period Promise campaign that sent a letter to Fleming on March 7 asking him to “take a leadership role in addressing period poverty in our province.”

“If there’s public policy around this, we can normalize it and make it no different than toilet paper,” Skidmore said. “It’s a human right.”

How frustrating it must be for socially progressive New Democrats to watch their government move so slowly on a clear-cut human rights issue like this.

“There are lots of leaders stepping up to say it can be done and it’s not that complicated,” said Skidmore.

Social Development Minister Shane Simpson is set to announce B.C.’s new poverty reduction strategy on Monday. There’s no good reason why this couldn’t be included.

Fleming said in statements last week that he’s “committed to supporting students around the province who need access to these products and I look forward to putting forward a plan soon.”

In the meantime, he said, “ministry staff are currently researching this further.”

Researching what exactly?

Is there some sort of cost-benefit ratio needed before the minister will sign off on funding access to hygiene products?

Is there a price to be put on the embarrassment faced in having to ask the office receptionist or school nurse (if the nursing office hasn’t already been eliminated due to cutbacks) for a tampon?

Is there a figure we can apply to how many days it’s acceptable for a female student to go home sick because they get their period in class and have nowhere to turn?

Does the ministry research the cost of toilet paper or soap?

For Ohana, who teaches social justice to her high school students, the issue is clear.

“To me, this is tied in to social justice,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s a human right. It’s a human reality.

“There’s a shame element,” Ohana added. “If girls can feel they can be proud of their bodies, and part of that being menstruation, that’s going to impact their self-esteem and confidence.”

That’s worth the cost.

Free advice to the education minister: Just do it.

[email protected]

twitter.com/robshaw_vansun




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19Jan

Molly Maid cleaner files human rights complaint after losing job during pregnancy

by admin

A woman who worked as a cleaner for Molly Maid in Metro Vancouver has filed a human rights complaint alleging the company fired her because she needed to attend emergency medical appointments for complications with her pregnancy.

The maid service applied to dismiss the complaint, arguing that it has offered the cleaner, Katelyn Jansen, a reasonable settlement of about $10,500 for damages for injury to dignity and wages lost.

Jansen argued that amount wasn’t enough. She also wants the company to create and implement a policy on pregnant women in the workplace.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal recently sided with Jansen and denied the company’s application, paving the way for the case to go forward. 

In an affidavit filed as part of her response to Molly Maid’s application, Jansen said, 15 months later, she still feels hurt by the company’s decision to dismiss her. 

‘Emotionally fragile’

Jansen said the appointments she attended at the time were to find out if her baby would be born with a “serious, life-altering disability.”

“I was in the most emotionally fragile and vulnerable place that I had been in in my life,” she said.

Molly Maid’s lawyer says the company takes issue with some of Jansen’s assertions. The decison notes that the company said it didn’t fire her, but instead assumed she had quit because she hadn’t contacted them for six days. 

West Coast LEAF, a legal organization that supports gender equality, wouldn’t comment on the validity of the complaint but said many employers are still unaware of their obligation to reasonably accommodate pregnant women at work. 

“We do hear quite regularly about challenges for pregnant women to receive proper accommodation in their employment,” said Raji Mangat, the organization’s director of litigation.

“Certainly in a field where many, if not most, of the employees are women, it would seem that the employer ought to have some sort of contingency plan in place.”

Hospital visit

According to the decision, Jansen had to miss work the first time beginning on July 31, 2017. She was 21 and four months pregnant and had been working for the company since February of that year.

In her affidavit, Jansen says she had scheduled an ultrasound for that day, but the Molly Maid asked her to reschedule it because the end of the month is its busiest time.

Jansen said on the night of July 30 she went to hospital after she experienced “excruciating abdominal pain” and bleeding. 

The next day, Jansen said in her affidavit, she met with her doctor and proceeded with the ultrasound, which she said she had forgotten to cancel.

Her employer was skeptical, she said.

“So weird it’s on the day you have twice requested off????” Jansen said one of the owners texted when she told them she couldn’t work. 

Jansen said she interpreted the response to indicate the owner wasn’t concerned about her condition. 

‘Angry and powerless’

Over the course of the next two weeks, according to Jansen’s affidavit, she attended more medical appointments — some outside of work hours, others not — and discovered her baby likely would be born with a genetic disorder. 

“I felt scared and helpless. At the time, I could not focus on anything else,” Jansen wrote in her affidavit.

In her affidavit Jansen said she last worked on Thursday, Aug. 10 when she left early to attend a medical appointment. 

The following Monday, Jansen said her midwife informed the company she would again have to miss work to attend a medical appointment the next day.

By Wednesday, Aug. 16, Jansen told the company she could return to work. But Molly Maid told her they assumed she wasn’t returning because they hadn’t heard from her in six days. 

Jansen said Molly Maid told her it had already issued her final cheque and a Record of Employment stating that she had quit. In her affidavit, Jansen said she felt “dumbfounded and sick and hurt and angry and powerless.”

Jansen’s baby was born on Dec. 26, 2017. Jansen said the child is legally blind, with only one functioning kidney and a club foot. 

Her complaint is scheduled for a trial at the tribunal in February.


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