Northwest Territories - Filing a Human Rights Complaint

Northwest Territories – Filing a Human Rights Complaint

Instructions, Resources and Help lines

If you have been denied service due to not wearing a mask, business owners could be held liable for a fine (up to $75,000 as it varies in each province) if you file a human rights complaint.

Federal Privacy Act: Nobody has the right to request to see an exemption. It is a violation of your privacy rights under the Privacy Act. This is your personal medical information between you and your physician.

What is personal information under the Privacy Act?  Click Here Privacy Act

“The Privacy Act offers protections for personal information, which it defines as any recorded information “about an identifiable individual.”

Stigma and those who can’t wear masks:

Some people may not be able to wear a mask or face covering. Be kind rather than making assumptions about those you see without them. For those unable to wear one, singling them out in public can be socially isolating and lead to anxiety.

Masks aren’t recommended for:

  • people who suffer from illnesses or disabilities that make it difficult to put on or take off a mask
  • those who have difficulty breathing
  • children under the age of 2
  • those who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance


Q: What if I am unable to wear a mask for a medical reason? Do I need a medical note to prove that I’m unfit to wear a mask?

A: While medical reasons which might prevent someone from wearing a mask safely are rare, you will not be required to wear a mask if you have medical reasons that makes it unsafe for you to wear a mask. Children under 2 years old will not be required to wear a mask, nor will persons with dementia, developmental or cognitive delays, severe psychiatric condition, severe skin conditions, or anyone who is physically unable to put on or take off a mask. You do not need a medical note to prove that you are not fit to wear a mask.


Q: Will I be denied service if I decline to wear a mask or do not have a mask?

A: We will not refuse to provide you service if you do not have a mask on, we are asking you to wear one to protect our staff and our communities. Wearing a mask is a very reasonable and easy way to protect both yourself and others, and is in alignment with the recommendations by the NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer, Health Canada, and the World Health Organization. If you have a mask, please bring your own. If you do not have your own mask, our staff can provide you with a non-medical mask at the entrance of our facility. You will not be required to wear a mask if you have medical reasons that make it unsafe for you to wear a mask.

COVID-19 measures must comply with our Constitution, including our Charter, they do not nullify nor supersede them, nor is there any express mention in any such law, statute, regulation, order or Guidance to so do.

Northwest Territories HUMAN RIGHTS ACT SNWT 2002,c.18

And whereas it is of vital importance to promote respect for and observance of human rights in the Northwest Territories, including the rights and freedoms protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and rights and freedoms
protected under international human rights instruments, while at the same time promoting respect for, and the observance of, the rights and freedoms of aboriginal peoples that are recognized and affirmed under the Constitution of

Who Can Help?


The Commission is taking precautionary measures in response to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. We continue to respond to inquiries and receive complaints. The fastest way to access our service is by contacting our office by phone or by email. 

At the same time, the NWT Human Rights Commission recognizes the importance of balancing people’s right to non-discrimination with public health and safety, including the need to address evidence-based risks associated with COVID-19.  In the difficult decisions that we face in the coming days, we encourage everyone to remember our human rights obligations while ensuring public health and safety.

RDR Brochure ENG WEB (PDF)

Phone: 867-669-5575

Email: [email protected] 

The NWT Human Rights Commission is committed to promoting and protecting human rights in the NWT. We thank you for your patience and understanding during this time of uncertainty.


Free general legal advice:


601 – 4920 52 ST

Yellowknife, NT X1A 3T1

T867-920-4542      1-800-753-1294

Disclaimer:  This information is not intended to be used as legal or health advice. We encourage you to do your own research.