Gendered language changes reduce barriers

Approximately 600 instances of gendered language across 15 ministries' regulations have been updated to reflect the diversity of the people served by the B.C. government.

Approximately 600 instances of gendered language across 15 ministries’ regulations have been updated to reflect the diversity of the people served by the B.C. government.

These changes have been made to ensure that all British Columbians have equal access to government services, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, race or cultural beliefs.

“Language matters. It allows people to feel recognized and affirmed,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “By upholding inclusive language, our government is taking steps to protect British Columbians’ human rights. We believe outdated language that prevents people from being seen for who they are should be removed to help tackle gender bias.”

The gendered language changes have been made through the annual regulatory process, Better Regulations for British Columbians. This annual regulatory process has been in place since 2016. The process groups together minor regulatory changes into a single amendment package and serves as an efficient way for government to clarify, correct or repeal outdated information in regulations.

Gendered words have been changed to inclusive language that acknowledges gender equity and diversity. For example, terms like “he” or “she,” “brother” and “wife” have been updated with more neutral language to consider all gender identities.

“These amendments are an important step forward as we continue to build an inclusive British Columbia by reframing the language we use,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance. “It is our goal to remove barriers that stop people from reaching their full potential. This includes updating regulations, policies and programs to reflect all British Columbians.”

The B.C. government has demonstrated its commitment to inclusivity and accessibility with the establishment of a parliamentary secretary for gender equity and a Gender Equity Office that works across government to ensure equity-based principles are reflected in budgets, policies and programs.

“These important updates signal that all folks across gender diversity are valued in our social fabric here in B.C.,” said Elijah Zimmerman, executive director, Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. “Being intentional with inclusive language is a form of welcoming and belonging, and a positive step toward uplifting gender-diverse experiences.”

Government will continue to work to identify and address remaining gendered language within B.C.’s policies.

Quick Facts:

  • Six hundred instances of outdated gendered language in nearly 70 regulations have been addressed through the Better Regulations for British Columbians annual regulatory process in 2021. The changes will take effect on March 11, 2021.
  • This is the start of a process to remove a remaining estimated 3,400 instances of gendered language in regulations and legislation.
  • Regulations amended in this first phase of updates include the Family Law Act Regulation, the Employment Standards Regulation, the Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation and the Wildlife Act General Regulation, as well as dozens of others.
  • The 2021 package includes regulatory changes from the following ministries: Agriculture, Food and Fisheries; Attorney General; Children and Family Development; Citizens’ Services; Education; Energy, Mines and Low-Carbon Innovation; Environment and Climate Change Strategy; Finance; Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development; Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation; Labour; Municipal Affairs; Public Safety and Solicitor General; Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport; Transportation and Infrastructure.
  • Other changes made as part of the Better Regulations for British Columbians regulatory process include minor changes to a variety of regulations to clarify, correct or repeal outdated information, making it easier for people to access services or submit information.