How are our human rights protected in Canada?

In Canada, our human rights are protected by:

The term 'common law' means legal rules developed from decisions made by judges in individual court cases. Statutes, also called legislation, are written laws developed by either the provincial or federal government. They become law after being approved by a majority vote of members of Parliament (MPs) or members of the legislative assembly (MLAs), depending on the level of government.

Human rights law in Canada is a combination of common law rules and statutes.  This legal information covers the basics about some important common law rules about human rights, as well as the Charter, the various provincial human rights statutes, and the federal human rights statute (the Canadian Human Rights Act).  You will also learn what’s involved in making a complaint that someone has discriminated against you.

There are also international agreements and laws that deal with human rights.  For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention. They are not covered here, but you can learn about international human rights law at

pdf Download this Human Rights and the Law page (315 KB) in pdf.

Last reviewed: February 2022