Discrimination Media Release
Updated: December 17, 2020
Vancouver B.C. – Today, B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner issued a simple poster to clarify mask-wearing exemptions permitted under law. The poster is designed to be placed alongside notices or signage about a business’s mask-wearing policies.
On Nov. 24, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued a mandatory mask order. BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner’s poster aims to reduce misunderstandings about the application of the order to people who are unable to wear masks. The poster encourages duty bearers such as business owners to take people at their word if they claim a mask exemption.
“As we adopt more extensive mask-wearing protocols, it is important to ensure that the implementation of the mask-wearing mandate does not violate people’s human rights, particularly the rights of people with disabilities,” said Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender.
“Our goal is to help keep British Columbians physically safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and secure in the knowledge we are monitoring and protecting their human rights.”
The poster clarifies that you do not have to wear a mask if:
- you are under 12 years old
- you are unable to wear a mask because of a health condition or physical or mental impairment
- you are unable to put on or remove a mask without help from another person
People who are able to wear a mask, but who choose not to as a matter of preference are not exempt.
The poster advises business owners that:
- If a person claims a mask exemption, take them at their word. Proof should not be required.
- Business owners cannot be fined for allowing people without masks to enter their place of business.
BCOHRC’s COVID-19 guidance to date
The Office has been responding to human rights issues raised by the pandemic:
- Commissioner Govender’s guidance on human rights approach to mask wearing during COVID-19
- Commissioner Govender’s video message on human rights during COVID-19
- Commissioner Govender’s full policy statement on human rights during COVID-19
- BCOHRC answers to COVID-19 frequently asked questions on human rights during COVID-19
The mask exemption poster is now available for download from BCOHRC’s website: bchumanrights.ca/mask/poster
The Commissioner encourages media to share these COVID-19 mask-wearing guidance resources.
Commissioner Kasari Govender is not available for interviews. For more information, please contact Elaine O’Connor, Acting Director, Communications, at Elaine.OConnor@bchumanrights.ca or 1-250-216-4534.
Download our media kit for new images of Commissioner Kasari Govender.
BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner exists to address the root causes of inequality, discrimination and injustice in B.C. by shifting laws, policies, practices and cultures. We do this work through education, research, advocacy, inquiry and monitoring. Learn more at: bchumanrights.ca
About the Commissioner
BC’s Human Rights Commissioner, Kasari Govender, started her five-year term on Sept. 3, 2019. Since then, our Office has been working swiftly to build a strong team, to listen deeply to the concerns of British Columbians, to issue policy guidance to protect vulnerable communities and to lay a human rights-based foundation for our work. As an Independent Officer of the Legislature, the Commissioner is uniquely positioned to ensure human rights in B.C. are protected, respected and advanced on a systemic level throughout our society.
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