Human Rights Tribunal Finds Disability Discrimination by Housing Co-Op Inadequately Addressing Mould, Awards Complainant Over $20,000

In a decision issued on June 1, 2022, Cameron v. Burrardview Housing Co-operative (No. 3), 2022 BCHRT 74, BC Human Rights Tribunal Member Grace Chen held that a housing co-operative discriminated against a member resident when it failed to adequately address issues of moisture and mould that exacerbated the resident’s physical disability. This was physical disability discrimination in services under section 8 of the BC Human Rights Code.

The Respondent housing co-op did not deny the presence of mould in the unit, but denied discriminating.

The complainant had advised the co-op that there was mould in her bathroom which was effecting her health. The co-op hired a company to investigate and the company found that there was a small amount of mould in the townhouse. It made recommendations regarding what had to be done to prevent mould from continue to grow. The complainant hired another company to inspect the air afterwards and that company found a “significant presence of mould and the high potential for health issues in correlation with long term exposure.” The complainant was subsequently diagnosed with a mould allergy. The doctors who saw her found that she had rhinosinusitis, sensitization to mould, hypersensitized airways, and allergy to mould. These were caused by the mould inside her home.

The co-op attempted renovations to remove the mould; however, the tribunal considered them inadequate and not done in a timely enough manner.

The tribunal held that the rhinosinusitis, sensitization to mould, hypersensitized airways, and 
allergy to mould were disabilities covered under the BC Human Rights Code. The tribunal also held that the mould exacerbated her disability, which was considered an adverse impact.

Regarding whether the mould was related to the disability, the tribunal held as follows:

[99] Overall, I find the medical evidence shows Ms. Cameron’s disability is related to the 
mould in her home and that the mould exacerbated her disability. Dr. Stepaniuk’s comment 
does not dissuade me given the other doctors arrive at a different conclusion. While there is 
not enough evidence to show the mould caused her disability, I am persuaded that nexus has 
been established because the medical evidence shows the mould contributes to her disability 

Regarding the connection with her disability, the tribunal also held the following:

[104] However, I find Burrardview indirectly discriminated against Ms. Cameron when she 
reported in 2016 that her health was being affected by the mould and Burrardview did not act, 
but acted in 2017 when another unit complained of mould. I find the nexus is proven between 
the differential treatment and her disability. 

The Tribunal also held that the housing co-op failed to accommodate the complainant’s disability, stating as follows:

[137] This situation has turned into a battle of mould inspection reports. Ms. Cameron does 
not trust Burrardview or its experts. The experts she retains produced different results than 
Burrardview’s experts. I cannot conclude the final Metro report and final remediation is the last 
reasonable and practical step that Burrardview has taken to the point of undue hardship. Given 
that Ms. Cameron gave evidence that the problem returned, at the very least, there should be 
some follow up on that, and there is no evidence of Burrardview addressing this. 

[138] I find Burrardview has not taken all reasonable and practical steps to accommodate Ms. 
Cameron to the point of undue hardship and has not discharged its duty to accommodate. 

It ordered that the respondent pay for some of the expenses the complainant incurred in relation to retaining the reports. It also ordered the co-op pay the complainant $20,000 for injury to dignity, feelings, and self respect.