Toronto – Today, a coalition of community and advocacy groups, as well as the Ontario Human Rights Commission, issued a joint statement calling on the Government of Ontario and police oversight bodies to immediately implement recommendations of the Honourable Justice Michael Tulloch from his Report of the Independent Police Oversight Review. This statement was prompted by recent events that highlight several police accountability issues that require immediate action.
A few months ago, I visited Thunder Bay and had the opportunity to speak with members of the Indigenous community. Community members told me about their concerns related to policing and child welfare, trafficking of Indigenous women and girls, and everyday racism in almost every facet of their lives including employment, housing, healthcare and retail. Most strikingly, people talked about being “garbaged” – literally having garbage thrown at them while walking down the street, all because of their Indigenous ancestry. I brought these concerns to the leaders that I met later in the day, including the Mayor and police.
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.