Respecting, protecting ,and fulfilling the human rights of people living with, and vulnerable to, HIV/AIDS has been recognized as an essential element of ethical and effective responses to the epidemic. Human rights law provides one critical tool for implementing a human rights-based approach to HIV/AIDS. Freedom from discrimination is a foundational human rights principle, and is a touchstone of both international and domestic human rights law. This article examines the ways in which Canadian law currently protects people against discrimination based on HIV/AIDS status. The article also reviews the equality rights provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; federal, provincial, and territorial anti-discrimination statutes and policies; and some of the key cases that have applied and developed these legislative protections. Finally, the article looks at the issue of remedies for discrimination under Canadian law. (Other forms of discrimination relevant to people living with HIV/AIDS--specifically, discrimination based on grounds relevant to people from groups disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS-related stigma--will be analyzed in similar detail in a future issue of the Review.)
Two recent surveys reveal that people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV) continue to suffer discrimination in the workplace from both colleagues and employers. Findings from the surveys, which were commissioned by the Coalition des organismes communautaires Québecois de lutte contre le sida (COCQ-SIDA), were released in November 2009.