The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) supports the proposed Correctional Services Transformation Act (CSTA), introduced on February 20, 2018, as an important step towards meeting Ontario’s ambitious commitments in relation to correctional reform.
One year ago today – January 29, 2017 – Canadians learned of the mass murder of six people, and the wounding of many others at a Centre culturel islamique de Québec in Quebec City. I was riveted by my tiny screen as the events were reported in real time on social media late into the night – a bystander watching from behind a glass window powerless to do anything.
Toronto – On January 16, 2018, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario issued a Consent Order requiring Ontario to end the use of segregation for people with mental health disabilities across its 26 correctional facilities, barring exceptional circumstances. The Order was obtained on the consent of the OHRC and the Ontario government.
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.