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Pregnant Student Rights in Canada?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi All,

I'm trying to find out if Canada has a law or laws similar to the USA's Title IX, which deal with the rights of pregnant students. After 9 months of pregnancy and attending university full-time, I'm looking back and seeing some problems with the way I was treated. But I can't seem to figure out if there are rules about accommodations and rights specifically for pregnant students,or if pregnant employee rights apply, or perhaps neither.

Does anyone know of such laws or have any experience in this area?

post #2 of 17

Certainly! What province are you in? 

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi MichelleZB

I am in B.C.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Bump bump. Shouldn't be as hard as it is to find the laws governing this.
I am going to call in to the campus equity advisor when I get the chance.
I will update this thread with any info. I can find.
post #5 of 17
Ok! So in BC his sort of thing is regulated by the BC Human Rights Coalition. They have a website! Look them up.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your help; l'll get in touch with them.
post #7 of 17

There are lots of laws, what types of accommodations were you looking for?

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, there are not laws specific to pregnant students in Canada, such as title IX in the USA.
However Human Rights law does apply, and accomodations must be made if the pregnancy creates a disability.
In my case, the university effectively underserved me by telling me that "Pregnancy is not a disability", and failing to recognize that pregnant students have specific reponsibilites and rights, and should be acknowledged as having them.
I believe the University could have done better,and I am working on feedback to let them know.
In my case there was no outright discrimination, but there certainly was a failure to support. Service providers seemed confused by a pregnant adult undergraduate looking for resources.
I expect better!
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
(Accidental double post removed)
post #10 of 17
I might be able to help... Were there any specific damages caused by the school?
What exactly do you mean by failure to support?
post #11 of 17
At least in Ontario, the buzzword is "accommodate". They have to accommodate your pregnancy. Do you feel as though you weren't accommodated?
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleZB View Post

At least in Ontario, the buzzword is "accommodate". They have to accommodate your pregnancy. Do you feel as though you weren't accommodated?

Accomodation is only a duty when there is a disability, e.g., you were told by a doctor to stay on bed rest, therefore could not attend lectures. Unless you have a physician's authority in the form of a note, there is duty to accommodate.
Any accomodation beyond this duty is strictly voluntary.
In my case, I asked to be connected to services and support on campus, and was thrown in to the bureaucracy that is student services; followups forgotten, files passed between advisors, etc.
For example, I was given an appointment with a disability advisor, rather than the Women's equity advisor. This choice of advisor served to guide me away from the parents network on campus, housing services, etc.
40, 000 student campus we are talking about here, and I was not very socially well connected.
I am working on a letter to the office that initiated the referral, as I want to let them know that students need better recognition and support than what I was given.
post #13 of 17

Was there a particular program or benefit you were denied because you were pregnant?

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Escaping View Post

Was there a particular program or benefit you were denied because you were pregnant?

I am still trying to figure this out. I'm researching, and will keep at it; thanks for your support.

post #15 of 17

At UVIC I was also told that pregnancy is not considered a disability.  So when I developed anemia during pregnancy, I used that as my "disability".  I agree that pregnancy in itself should have accommodations, not just disabilities.

post #16 of 17
At least in Ontario, there is language in the Human Rights Code about accommodation for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers specifically. It is too bad that a document doesn't seem to exist like that in BC?

But from what you're saying, I'm not sure you're talking about discrimination here but a lack of policy on the university's part about how to deal with you. They seem to have not known where to direct you, etc. I think a strongly worded letter telling them of their mistake and asking for clear university policies would be a good place to start.
post #17 of 17

I think that you should also consider looking to the Charter on this one.  I would argue that you were discriminated on the basis of gender which is precluded by Article 15 of the Charter. However, the SCC has not yet ruled on whether or not the Charter applies to universities or not.  A recent decision in Ontario said "No", whereas another decision by the CA in Alberta said "yes". 

 

http://www.nortonrose.com/knowledge/publications/67808/application-of-canadian-charter-to-universities-remains-unclear

 

I also don't see that pregnancy in and of itself would be considered a "disablility" but there are duties to accomodate in circumstances beyond disability.  For example, the federal court recently ruled that employers have a duty to accomodate an employee's childcare (and elder care) needs.  While you aren't an "employee" as a student, there may be other case law that extends similar duties on a university due to the nature of the relationship between a university and its students (or there may not be, I don't know, just hypothesizing).

 

Just some other things to consider.

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