Abusive calls to human rights commission won't be tolerated, says executive director

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Brenda Picard, executive director of the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission, says 50 per cent of the calls in September were COVID-related, up from 15 per cent over the previous five months. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)
Brenda Picard, executive director of the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission, says 50 per cent of the calls in September were COVID-related, up from 15 per cent over the previous five months. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

The P.E.I. Human Rights Commission is dealing with a surge in calls from people frustrated and upset over COVID-19 restrictions and the Vax Pass.

Beginning Oct. 5, people on P.E.I. will have to show proof of vaccination to enter many establishments.

Executive director Brenda Picard said she knew there would be a lot of questions but she didn't anticipate callers taking frustrations out on staff.

In September, half the calls coming into the commission were COVID-related, she said. From April to August, only 15 per cent of the calls had to do with COVID-19.

"Unfortunately, it's not only the number of calls we've gotten, but the tone of the calls has changed and not for everyone, we certainly get some some legitimate calls and some people who are respectful of our staff," she said.

"But we're also getting a lot of people who are very frustrated and they're venting their frustrations in a way that's disrespectful to the staff who are really just trying to give them information about what the P.E.I. Human Rights Act can cover."

Picard said some callers are frustrated because they are asking for things beyond the mandate of the commission.

She said staff won't put up with abusive conversations, emails or letters. Some provinces have even had to shut down their inquiry lines.

Picard said to protect staff, commission staff sometimes have to put the phones on hold, and they are taking steps to ensure the same person isn't always answering the phone.

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