National News

Former inmate can file rights' complaint: court

By The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - An allegation of discrimination launched by a former inmate and HIV patient against a jail on Vancouver Island is heading back to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

Charles Mzite has argued the B.C. government broke the Human Rights Code by interrupting his supply of antiretroviral medication while he was an inmate at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre between December 2007 and April 2009.

The tribunal accepted his complaint March 2, 2012, even though it was not filed within a six-month time frame required by law.

The provincial government appealed that decision to the B.C. Supreme Court, and in June 2013, Justice Harry Slade overturned the tribunal's ruling.

Slade found there was no reasonable explanation for the delay, and the tribunal was motivated by an improper purpose, specifically an investigation of the jail's medical practices and procedures.

Now the B.C. Court of Appeal has now set aside Slade's decision, ruling evidence explained why Mzite's complaint was filed late, and the judge should not have substituted his own views on the weight given to the allegation of discrimination.

"There was some basis in this case for the decision to accept the complaint after the expiry of the six-month period afforded by the code," wrote Justice Peter Willcock in the ruling.

"It cannot be said that the decision was patently unreasonable. I would allow the appeal, set aside the order made by the judge and remit the substantive complaint for consideration by the tribunal pursuant to the code."

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