Updates to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act, passed in the fall 2007 sitting of the legislature, come into effect on Monday, June 30. The updates include changes to key definitions and terms in the act to ensure they are consistent with the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and with human rights legislation in other jurisdictions. New language in the act will ensure uniform use of gender-neutral terms. A one-year time limit to file complaints after the last alleged discriminatory act will be put in place, consistent with other jurisdictions. An additional year may be granted in exceptional circumstances. There is also greater clarity of the commission’s ability to finalize cases, such as where a complaint is frivolous or lacks sufficient grounds for action. Under the amendments, a board of inquiry now must issue its decision within six months of the conclusion of a hearing. “These changes to the act help to modernize Nova Scotia’s statute and bring it in line with those in other provinces and at the federal level,” said Krista Daley, director and CEO of the commission. “They also continue to ensure that fairness and transparency are hallmarks of the commission’s investigation of complaints.” Nova Scotia’s Human Rights Act affirms every person is free and equal in dignity and rights without regard to age, race, colour, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, ethnic, national or aboriginal origin, family or marital status, source of income, irrational fear of contracting an illness or political belief, affiliation or activity. The act previously prohibited sexual harassment, however, the amendments extend the scope of prohibited harassment to all protected characteristics. The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission is an independent government commission that is charged with the administration of the province’s Human Rights Act. Commission staff investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination and conduct public education and outreach to promote dialogue and respect for human rights.