Last updated: November 2, 2023
The core mission of the Tribunal is the timely and fair resolution of human rights complaints.
On November 1, 2017, the Tribunal identified goals for how long it takes to deal with a complaint at each step in the process. These goals are the Tribunal’s service standards. They are set out below. The Tribunal aims to meet its service standards at least 80% of the time. The Tribunal is currently reviewing its service standards in light of process changes and to better align with our new ongoing case volumes, increasing complexity of cases, technology, party needs, and resources.
Service Standard Goals Not Being Met
In the past three years, the Tribunal experienced a significant spike in the number of complaints filed. This spike exacerbated a growing backlog at that time. The Tribunal did not have the capacity to address the increased number of complaints which contributed to an unprecedented backlog of cases and delays in the Tribunal’s process.
In April 2023, the Provincial Government increased funding for the Tribunal for the next three years. The Tribunal has taken steps to apply the increased funding to increase our capacity. Substantive improvements to complaint processing and resolution times are in progress. The existing backlog must be cleared to allow complaints to move steadily through the process. See Message from the Chair about the Tribunal’s backlog strategy.
Below is an overview of average timelines as of August 2023. As the Tribunal increases its capacity, we will periodically update the timelines below.
Reviewing new complaints – Not meeting service standards
When someone files a complaint, the Tribunal reviews the complaint to ensure that:
- it includes all needed information
- we have the authority to deal with it under the BC Human Rights Code
- it is filed within the one-year time limit
- it sets out possible discrimination.
This is referred to as screening. The Tribunal may ask the complainant for more information. If a complaint contains sufficient information to satisfy screening requirements, we will complete the screening process and notify parties within 30 days of filing. If additional information to satisfy screening requirements is necessary, we will complete the screening process and notify parties within 60 days of filing.
Currently, there is a significant delay with cases in screening. Due to the backlog of cases in screening, the Tribunal has not been able to meet its screening service standards for cases presently filed. It is currently taking over 1 year to screen a case. The Tribunal is adding resources to cases in screening under its Backlog Strategy and aims to meet its screening standards in late 2024.
Notice to respondents – Not meeting service standards
As set out above, if the Tribunal can proceed with a complaint, we notify the respondents about the complaint within 30 days where no further information is required and within 60 days if more information is required from the complainant. We also set deadlines for respondents to file a response to the complaint.
In addition to delays in screening, there is also delay in notification. Currently, we are notifying respondents of complaints filed as recently as 2022.
Scheduling mediations – Meeting service standards
The Tribunal’s service standard was to schedule mediations within 2 months of notifying parties that the complaint is proceeding. The Tribunal sets a mediation date when it notifies the respondent of the complaint. We have updated the service standard to permit time for a respondent to file the Form 2 Response before the mediation. Our new target is to set a mediation date within 14 weeks of notice of complaint. We are meeting this target.
Scheduling hearings – Not meeting service standards
Currently, the Tribunal schedules hearings after the following steps:
- The parties have attended mediation if they chose mediation,
- The parties have completed document disclosure, and
- The Tribunal has decided the next step is a hearing.
Service standard for scheduling hearings:
- The first date we offered parties for a hearing was to be no more than two months later for hearings under three days.
- The first date we offered parties for a hearing was to be no more than four months later for hearings three days or more.
Currently, the Tribunal is scheduling hearings for 2024. Due to the number of cases at the hearing stage exceeding Tribunal hearing capacity, the Tribunal is unable to meet service standards for hearing scheduling. The Tribunal requires further resources to meet the demands for hearing availability and the service standards.
Decisions – Meeting one service standard
The Tribunal set the following service standards for issuing decisions:
Decisions on procedural applications: On simple procedural applications, such as adjournments, the service standard is to issue decisions within two business days of receiving oral submissions. On all other procedural applications, the service standard is within 30 days of receiving submissions. The Tribunal is currently meeting its service standards on procedural applications most of the time.
Decisions on applications to dismiss a complaint without a hearing: The service standard is to issue decisions within 90 days of receiving submissions. The Tribunal is not meeting this service standard. This group of applications represents the biggest decision backlog. The Tribunal is dedicating new resources to deciding applications to dismiss. We are currently working on applications filed in 2021. Through its backlog strategy and additional resources, the Tribunal is working to shorten timelines.
Decisions after a hearing: for a hearing of less than three days, the service standard is to issue a decision within 90 days. For a hearing of three days or more, the service standard is to issue a decision within 180 days. We are not meeting this service standard.