February is Black History Month. It’s a time to celebrate the stories and significant contributions of Black Canadians to our province and our country. In fact, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) came into being more than half a century ago under the leadership of Daniel G. Hill, who as a Black man faced prejudice and exclusion while simply trying to find a place to live.
Toronto – The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is intervening in Roberts v. Toronto Police Services Board, an application before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) that raises the issues of racial profiling and discriminatory use of force.
Human rights in Ontario
The Ontario Human Rights Code is a provincial law that gives everybody equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific social areas such as jobs, housing, services, facilities, and contracts or agreements.
The Code’s goal is to prevent discrimination and harassment because of race, sex, disability, and age, to name a few of the 17 grounds. All other Ontario laws must agree with the Code.
Not all unfair treatment and not all harassment is covered by the Code. The treatment or harassment must be based on at least one Code ground and take place within a social area to be protected. For an explanation of discrimination and harassment, see What is discrimination?
If you believe you have experienced discrimination, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre can help you determine if what you experienced is protected under the Code. If you want to take legal steps to address an incident, the deadline is generally one year from the last discriminatory event.
The Ontario Human Rights System is made up of three separate agencies:
- The Ontario Human Rights Commission (that’s us) works to promote, protect and advance human rights through research, education, targeted legal action and policy development.
- The Human Rights Legal Support Centre gives legal help to people who have experienced discrimination under the Code.
- The Human Rights Tribunal is where human rights applications are filed and decided.
Human Rights 101 will help guide you through Ontario’s Human Rights System.