Friday, June 5, 2009

The Costs of the HRCs - Direct & Indirect

A Brief Look at The Costs of our HRCs

There are costs to the work (work - that's a misplaced word) that our HRCs undertake allegedly on our behalf. There is the direct cost of the HRC itself, and there is the indirect costs born by the Defendant, and to a some extent by the rest of us.

Direct Costs

I was curious to see if I could figure out what the HRC industry spends of our tax dollars in a year. So, I went to each HRC web site. Nunavut does not have their own HRC yet. They work their problems through the NWT HRC. Many of the HRCs have their financial statements in their annual report. Some are part of another ministry, and had to be located there. Reporting standards varied, from one number for the whole, to greater detail.

Bottom line here. The HRCs, including provinces, territories, and Canada total about $77 million annually. There is some guesswork here, since the last financial statement I could find for the Canada HRC was 2002. That is only about $2.32 for each one of us on our annual tax bills. Personally, I'll take the cash if it is offered.

Indirect Costs

All indirect costs of our HRCs are not able to be measured. When I call them indirect, I mean it only from the perspective of the HRC itself. ie. They never see it, or probably care about it.

Legal Fees

The most common of these costs is Legal Fees. Ted Kindos has spent north of $40,000 to defend a nonsense case about a licensed pot smoker at his place of business. Ezra Levant has spent significantly more than $100,000 to defend himself against the nuisance claims made against him over the last few years.

Awards and Interest

Cases when completed often result in an award to the Complainant, with interest calculated from some earlier date. A minister in PEI in a case I will review sometime soon was awarded $600,000 plus interest for lost wages and pain and suffering. In ADGA which I reviewed in an earlier post, the Complainant got about $80,000.

However, most cases settle for smaller amounts before they get to the actual hearing stage. As Ezra Levant titled his book, these are shakedowns. For a nuisance payment of $5,000 to $20,000, plus some other pound of emotional flesh, the complainant walks away with a tax free bonus, and the Defendant gets to crawl away.

Non Financial Award Costs

HRCs tend to be attempting to remediate egregious behaviour on the part of the Defendants, and so they tend to order them to undertake sensitivity training, or something similar. As well, particularly for businesses, they like to get them to put their staff through this training, make them develop training materials in case they should ever again hire someone like the person who complained about them in the first place. Of course, these ativities must be undertaken with consultants approved by the HRC. I smell a sub industry here.

In the case of Viola Landry and the Popeye Restaurant in Geraldton Ontario, she had to put cards with the Human Rights Code on the tables to help her customers not discriminate against each other and her staff. I wonder what happened to the cards after she lost her business.

Emotional and Other costs

This is the cost that cannot be quantified. I watched my friend, the grade school principal, having to retire early because of the deands on her health, of seeing her life's work and labour of love torn apart because she stood up to a loud mouthed parent of the wrong colour.

I listened to John Fulton who owns 2 health clubs in St. Caherines, and hopes he still will after the transsexual who he couldn't accommodate on the spot in his Women's Only Club decided to make a case of it. Mr. Fulton has built his business from scratch over 25 years, and is active in the community supporting worthy causes. Will be able to when this is done, not just financially, but with the emotional cost of it all on him.

Viola Landry's business was not particularly strong when her case started, but she was doing her best to make it work. She closed it down last year, and had to seek work elsewhere.

This Emotional and Physical cost on the bodies and minds of the Defendants of these actions are a burden that our society will bear into the future. As humans, we do not wake up each day with renewed energy, unhindered by the challenges that we faced yesterday or yesterday's yesterday. No, we carry the burden of traumas in our life with us, often forever. The burden may be reduced by therapy with the right counsellor, another indirect cost. But, once that emotional and physical energy has been spent, it often cannot be recovered. We are seeing more cases of chronic fatigue, and autoimmune problems, particularly among those who have carried emotional burdens beyond their own ability.

Will Ted Kindos, John Fulton, Viola Landry end up retiring earlier than they otherwise might have? I would not be surprised that the traumatic burden of their HRC cases will impact their long term physical and mental health. I saw it with my friend the principal.

Can our Country, Provinces and Territories afford the cost of second hand smoke that is coming down the pipe from these cases?

People in our country should be free from discrimination, including the Defendants and this wierd process that makes them into victims.

This system is seriously broken.

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