The Charter applies to government action. This is the case whether a federal, provincial or municipal government is acting.

The Charter does not apply to private interactions between individuals or private businesses. For example, the Charter would not apply to dealings between an individual and his or her  spouse or landlord. Interactions between private parties are governed by provincial or federal human rights legislation (click here for more information).

The Charter applies to the following parties or government action:

Written laws, by-laws or regulations

This would include, for example, a federal law on immigration, a provincial law stating that all restaurants are non-smoking, or a municipal by-law dealing with garbage collection.

 Government Actors

This includes interactions with a government body or employee. For example, the Charter applies to your dealings with the Alberta government, the City of Calgary, an R.C.M.P. officer, or a Canada Border Services agent.

Actors Controlled by the Government

Some organizations that do not look like government actors are nonetheless treated as such because the government controls their actions.  This will occur when, for example, government appointees control a board of directors, or when a statute designates the entity as an “agent” of the Crown.  

Non-Government Bodies Carrying out Government Actions

Sometimes, an entity that appears to be private will be subject to the Charter because it is exercising a power given to it by the government, or it is implementing a government objective.

When a non-governmental body is given powers of compulsion by the government, the Charter will likely apply to that specific action. For example, the Law Society of Alberta regulates lawyers. The Alberta government gave the Law Society this authority in a statute. Therefore, when the Law Society is regulating lawyers, it must comply with the Charter. However, the Charter will likely only apply to the actions that have a public dimension. Purely internal matters (for example, internal employment policies) would not trigger the Charter.

A non-government entity that implements a government objective will be subject to the Charter. For example, the Courts have held that a hospital is governed by the Charter when it was delivering medical services to the public, because this is implementing a government objective (health care). Like the law society example, the Charter will only apply to the hospital's public action. A hospital would not be governed by the Charter regarding purely private matters (for example, it's creation of a retirement policy).  

(see: Pridgen v. University of Calgary, 2012 ABCA 139 (CanLII) at 78 - 99)