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Woman starts petition to end appearance-based discrimination in Sask.
Published Wednesday, February 22, 2017 5:27PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, February 23, 2017 10:54AM CST
A Saskatoon woman has launched a petition to add body size and physical appearance to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code as protected grounds against discrimination.
Hayley Roesler, 25, started the petition last week and has so far garnered nearly 200 signatures.
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code protects someone’s right to equality without discrimination based on 16 protected grounds including disability, age, religion and gender identity. Discrimination based on any of the 16 grounds is illegal if it doesn’t allow someone equal rights to things like education, employment and housing.
Roesler wants size and physical appearance added.
“I think a lot of people have an opinion of overweight individuals and a lot of it has to do with them being lazy or not able to contribute than, say, a thinner person would be able to. But everyone's capable, right?” Roesler said. “(I’m doing this) to give people the opportunity to show that they're capable.”
The petition is part of a wider movement called #SizeismSUCKS started by Jill Andrew in Toronto. She’s been studying body image for nearly two decades and says there are about a dozen jurisdictions worldwide with laws in place against appearance-based discrimination, but no laws in Canada.
Andrew is working to amend laws across the country with #SizeismSUCKS. She’s helped local leaders launched petitions in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, and is working to create more.
“It doesn't matter what size you are on the spectrum. At the end of the day, you're a human being,” Andrew told CTV News. “Every human being deserves human rights and deserves to be treated with dignity.”
According to the Rudd Centre for Food Policy and Obesity, 43 per cent of overweight people say they've experienced weight bias from employers and supervisors. It also found those who are overweight earn less than non-overweight people in comparable positions.
The research shows more than 50 per cent of doctors felt overweight patients were weak-willed and unlikely to comply with treatment.
Roesler said while she has struggled with body-shaming and stigma, specifically in healthcare, she’s now in a good place in her body-acceptance journey.
“I am clinically overweight and for me it hasn’t held me back, so I don’t want other people to feel held back based on their weight or their physical appearance,” she said.
The Saskatchewan petition will be delivered to the Supreme Court of Canada, Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission and other provincial decision makers.