Toronto - At the first-ever OHRC Community Advisory Group Summit, on November 8 and 9, 2017, approximately 50 representatives from various communities across Ontario offered their expertise, lived experience and creativity to help the OHRC create a sustainable and transparent approach to community engagement.
In conversations about criminal justice reform, it has become cliché for leaders to conclude that sustainable solutions lie in “rebuilding trust.” And for good reason. A September 2017 poll found that six in 10 Torontonians would “be scared” if they were “pulled over by a police officer for no apparent reason.” When speaking to the introduction of the Safer Ontario Act, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said the legislation will rebuild trust. But will it?
I am writing to express the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) support for Bill 164, which was introduced on October 4, 2017 in the Legislature. We understand that the Second Reading will take place on October 26. As I expressed in our meeting on October 2, it is the OHRC’s position that Bill 164 improves the Human Rights Code by including new grounds of protection for people under social condition, police records, genetic characteristics, and immigration status.
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.