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Business Plan 2019-2020

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Contents

 

Section 1: Executive Summary
Section 2: Mandate
Section 3: Overview of Programs and Activities
Section 4: Environmental Scan and Risks
Section 5: Strategic Directions and Key Commitments
Section 6: Human Capital Plan – Appendix
Section 7: Information Technology (IT)/Electronic Service Delivery (ESD) Plan
Section 8: Initiatives Involving Third Parties
Section 9: Communication Plan
Section 10: Diversity and Inclusion Plan
Section 11: Multi-Year Accessibility Plan
Section 12: Three-Year Financial Plan
Section 13: Performance Measures and Targets

 

Section 1: Executive summary

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is an arm’s-length agency of the government of Ontario established under the Ontario’s Human Rights Code. A nearly 70 year old institution, the OHRC is now one of three pillars of Ontario’s human rights system, alongside the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC). The OHRC’s function is to protect, promote and advance respect for human rights in Ontario, as well as identify and promote the elimination of discriminatory practices, all in the public interest. The OHRC works in many ways to fulfill this mandate, including through education, policy development, public inquiries and litigation.

Ontario’s human rights system – and the OHRC’s particular role within it – is unique. Fundamentally, the OHRC is tasked with challenging persistent inequality in society. Our mandate places a particular emphasis on addressing systemic discrimination, which refers to patterns of behaviour, policies and/or practices that are part of the social or administrative structure of an organization, and that create or perpetuate a position of relative disadvantage for persons protected by the Code.  Ontario’s statutory model recognizes the complexity of the real, intersecting dynamics and cross-cutting systems that drive and sustain systemic discrimination. It recognizes that multi-dimensional strategies, beyond litigating individual cases, are necessary to unseat entrenched systems and behaviours that perpetuate discrimination. The OHRC’s statutory mandate empowers it to pursue truly systemic solutions in the public interest. Because the OHRC’s mandate is unique, it is important to exercise that mandate in the most effective and efficient way. This requires us to not only monitor and respond to critical and emerging issues, but to also consider those priority areas where proactive and sustained work can have an impact in the current climate.

To that end, the OHRC publicly released its 2017-2022 strategic plan, Putting people and their rights at the centre, in December 2016, and has developed its operational plan and performance measures based on this plan. Our priorities for the remaining three years are reflected in this Business Plan.

In July 2018, the OHRC released Impact today, investment for tomorrow, its 2017-2018 Annual Report. The report showcases the OHRC’s work to address systemic discrimination in the four focus areas of its strategic plan (Indigenous Reconciliation; Criminal Justice System; Poverty; and Education), and includes reporting on Key Performance Indicators.

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Key achievements for 2018:

Indigenous reconciliation

Sustaining trusting relationships with diverse Indigenous peoples
  • The OHRC continued to work closely with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC), pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the OFIFC in July 2017. This included seeking the OFIFC’s feedback on draft OHRC policies and submissions, mutually providing training to staff and leadership, and collaborating on outreach in Timmins and the James Bay Coast. The OFIFC also provided training to the OHRC Community Advisory Group in November 2018.
  • The OHRC continues to work towards formal partnerships with the Chiefs of Ontario and Métis Nation of Ontario, who are interested in working more closely with us.
  • The OHRC continued to benefit from ongoing relationships with elders Nancy Rowe and Maurice Switzer, who have provided ongoing feedback on OHRC initiatives and provided traditional perspectives during our Community Advisory Group meeting. 
  • The OHRC travelled to Timmins as a part of the OHRC’s “Taking it Local” sessions, which provide key human rights information to local groups. The OHRC also visited the James Bay Coast (Moose Factory and Moosonee) to engage with diverse Indigenous and civic leadership in a productive and respectful conversation about concerns relating to human rights. The Chief Commissioner had the opportunity to meet with Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon, of the Mushkegowuk Council of Cree First Nations in the James Bay region of northern Ontario.
Addressing systemic discrimination against Indigenous peoples
  • The OHRC engaged with more than 1,500 people through our public education sessions focusing on reconciliation.
  • The OHRC released Interrupted Childhoods: Over-representation of Indigenous and Black children in Ontario child welfare on April 12, 2018. The report outlines findings from the OHRC’s public interest inquiry into whether First Nations, Métis and Inuit (Indigenous) and Black children are over-represented at children’s aid societies (CASs), particularly in admissions into care. This report confirmed that Indigenous and Black children are over-represented in child welfare across Ontario.
    • The OHRC organized a discussion on June 18, 2018, involving the City of Timmins, key regional institutions, and First Nations and Métis representatives, to discuss establishing a leadership table in Timmins to respond to persistent concerns of systemic racism faced by Indigenous communities. 
    • The OHRC reached a settlement with the City of Mississauga and the Applicant, Bradley Gallant. This settlement addresses the harmful impact of stereotypes on Indigenous youth by requiring Mississauga to remove from its sports facilities all Indigenous-themed mascots, symbols, names and imagery related to non-Indigenous sports organizations. News of this settlement was released on December 13, 2018.
Deepening the OHRC’s understanding of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • The OHRC released To dream together: Indigenous peoples and human rights dialogue report on November 14th. The report summarizes themes and recommendations from the OHRC’s three-day dialogue event (February 21 to 23, 2018), which brought Elders and traditional knowledge keepers, along with academics, leaders, artists, advocates, lawyers, policy makers, and human rights institutions to discuss a vision of human rights that reflects Indigenous perspectives, world views and issues. The report includes specific recommendations participants made for human rights institutions, governments and other community organizations, and prioritizes implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The dialogue was co-hosted with Osgoode Hall Law School, with in-kind support from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. The OHRC also hosted a public lecture featuring James Anaya, Dean of the University of Colorado Boulder Law School and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

 

Criminal justice system

Leveraging government initiatives related to criminal justice reform
  • The OHRC provided recommendations and ongoing advice to government to inform the Safer Ontario Act and Correctional Transformation and Reintegration Act; two-thirds of the OHRC’s recommendations were adopted in the final legislation.
  • Collaborated with the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and Ontario Association of Police Services Boards to provide Justice Tulloch with guidance on race-based data collection to support his review of Regulation 58/16 regarding Street Checks.
Addressing racial profiling in policing, and highlighting the lived experience
  • On December 10, 2018, the OHRC released A Collective Impact, the interim report on its public interest inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination by the Toronto Police Service (TPS). The interim report answers the question of whether Black people are more likely to have force used against them by the Toronto Police that results in serious injury or death, through analysis of data from the Special Investigations Unit, and engagement with approximately 130 individuals in Black communities across Toronto. The report showed that Black people were significantly over-represented in all categories of serious use of force/death.
  • The OHRC submitted a written deputation to the Toronto Police Services Board on the Toronto Police Services Board’s Anti-Racism Advisory Panel in December 2018.
  • The OHRC supported the development of a new book entitled: Racial Profiling and Human Rights in Canada: The New Legal Landscape, published by Irwin Law and released in October. Most of the articles in the book were developed based on presentations provided to the OHRC’s Policy Dialogue on Racial Profiling conducted in 2016. This book was publically released at York University on October 14, 2018.
  • The OHRC continues to develop its Policy and guidelines on racial profiling for law enforcement. Research and consultation on this area has continued throughout 2018 with the plan to release the policy in 2019.
Ending the use of segregation in Ontario corrections
  • After the OHRC filed a breach of settlement application in Jahn v Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) 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 requires the government to accurately identify prisoners with mental health disabilities, and to track and monitor the segregation use and its impact on health. The first set of data was released on October 31, 2018. The Order also imposes significant accountability and transparency mechanisms, requiring the government to consult with an independent expert (Dr. Kelly Hannah-Moffat) to implement the terms, appoint an independent reviewer (Justice David Cole) to monitor compliance, and collect and release data on segregation use. The Order was obtained on the consent of the OHRC and the Ontario government. The OHRC continues to provide expert advice to the government on implementing the Order.                                                                                                                                   
  • The Chief Commissioner gave evidence in the matter of R. v Capay relating to the use of solitary confinement at the Thunder Bay Jail.
  • The OHRC wrote the government after touring Monteith Jail and Correctional Centre; and toured Vanier Correctional Centre for Women.
  • The Chief Commissioner received the Correctional Investigator of Canada’s 2018 Ed McIsaac Award for Human Rights in Corrections.
  • The OHRC intervened in Corporation of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) v Canada before the Ontario Court of Appeal supporting the CCLA in its challenge to the constitutional validity of the administrative segregation provisions of the federal Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

 

Poverty

  • The OHRC wrote to the provincial government to bring a human rights lens to its plan to reform social assistance.
  • The OHRC wrote to the federal government to encourage it to adopt a human rights-based approach in the National Housing Strategy.
  • The OHRC successfully challenged restrictions to benefits for workers aged 65 and over. In Talos v Grand Erie District School Board, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that subsection 25(2.1) of the Ontario Human Rights Code, as well as related provisions in the Employment Standards Act and its regulations, amount to age discrimination and violate section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • In March 2018, OHRC staff and Commissioners spent three days learning about the lived experience of poverty from a variety of perspectives. This knowledge will help us as we intensify our efforts to deal with poverty as a human rights issue over the next few years.
  • The OHRC has advised the government of its intention to intervene in litigation before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice challenging the constitutionality of the Safe Streets Act.

 

Education

  • The OHRC released its new Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities, along with recommendations on how to best meet legal obligations under Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The policy provides students and families with up-to-date information about their human rights and responsibilities, and offers practical guidance to education providers to meet their legal duty to accommodate. The OHRC followed this up with letters to education providers and the provincial government, encouraging them to implement our recommendations. The Chief Commissioner’s opinion editorial, All children should feel like they belong in school, was published by the Toronto Star on September 2, 2018.
  • The OHRC provided advice on the Ontario government's development of an Education Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).The AODA process includes developing standards on various aspects of life to facilitate greater accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. The Education Standard is the latest standard for development and of great importance for enhancing accessibility for students.
  • In January 2018, the OHRC wrote to the University of Toronto to express concerns that its proposed University-mandated Leave of Absence Policy may result in discrimination based on mental health disability. The University of Toronto amended the policy to address the OHRC’s concerns.
  • OHRC Commissioners approved a plan to enhance human rights education in the provincial curriculum and schools. The plan drew on seven focus groups with education sector stakeholders, youth, and Indigenous and Francophone educators.
  • On December 14, 2018, the OHRC provided a written submission and recommendations to inform the government’s consultation on the education system. This submission highlighted how an education system that respects human rights and promotes inclusion will be better placed to meet the government’s goals of improving academic achievement and preparing all students for the working world. The recommendations were endorsed by 29 community groups and individuals.
  • The OHRC filed a notice of intervention with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) in the case of AB v Ministry of Education, involving recent changes to Ontario’s health and physical education curriculum, on October 9, 2018.

 

Foundational strengths

Leadership voice

  • Between January and December 2018, the OHRC published 22 submissions, letters or public comments making recommendations or providing advice on various legislation, regulations, policies and programs including on the Safer Ontario Act, Corrections Transformation Act, Independent Street Checks Review, Canada’s Universal Periodic Review (United Nations), accessible education for students with disabilities, reform of social assistance, and the government’s education consultation.
  • The Chief Commissioner attended 37 speaking engagements reaching 3,912 people
  • The Chief Commissioner provided advice in response to a request from the government of British Columbia on reforms to their human rights system.
  • The Chief Commissioner wrote an opinion editorial in the Toronto Star regarding the rise of hate crimes in Canada, as well as an opinion editorial in the Huffington Post to mark International Women’s Day and draw the connections between the #MeToo movement and human rights protections.
  • The OHRC made a submission to inform Canada’s response to recommendations made during the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (3rd cycle) – August 2018.
  • The OHRC continued its long history of supporting the development of Ontario’s accessibility legislation and standards through its submission on the Third Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in November 2018. The OHRC’s submission addressed, among other things, the need for removal of existing barriers, accessible procurement requirements applying to more organizations, attitudinal barriers, and new accessibility standards.

Our people and relationships

  • The OHRC strengthened collaboration with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre through signing of an MOU and increased coordination at the governance level that was achieved by reports at each meeting from the cross-appointees.
  • The OHRC released Communities for change, its report on the inaugural Community Advisory Group Summit and a new community engagement strategy.
  • The OHRC hosted its second annual Community Advisory Group Summit on November 20 and 21, 2018. Approximately 40 representatives serving diverse communities across Ontario offered their expertise, lived experience and insight on commitments made in the OHRC’s Strategic Plan. This year’s theme was Ne-maam-mweh, an Ojibwe term that means “we are together as one.” The summit included discussion on a range of key human rights issues in Ontario, and three themes emerged:
    • The rise in extremism and hate activity, both online and in many communities, is a pressing challenge that must be addressed.
    • Protecting and promoting human rights are foundational to the rule of law and democracy.
    • The OHRC must continue to actively protect the rights of all people across Ontario.
Evidence-informed approaches
Practical guidance and solutions
  • OHRC staff attended 45 speaking engagements reaching 3,548 people.
  • The OHRC engaged approximately 1,200 people and updated them on their human rights, through free public education sessions across the province.
  • On March 21, 2018, the OHRC released Call it Out, an eLearning tool designed to raise awareness of the history and impact of racism and racial discrimination and to promote a culture of human rights in Ontario. We established partnerships with the Anti-Racism Directorate and the Centre for Leadership and Learning to facilitate module use by the wider Ontario Public Service.
  • The OHRC released a Policy statement cannabis and the Human Rights Code in October 2018. The policy statement provided timely guidance on human rights obligations related to the legalization of cannabis in Ontario.
  • Over a one-year period from October 2017 to September 2018, the OHRC’s website had approximately 856,071 unique views of its eLearning modules (including Working Together: The Code and the AODA). The most viewed module was Working Together at 710,684 unique views and other modules had 145,387 unique views.
  • In June 2018, the OHRC held a “Taking it Local” full-day human rights workshop, open to the public and organized with local partners in Timmins. These regular events allowed the OHRC to engage with communities across the province, facilitated broader understanding of regional concerns, provided networking opportunities for human rights advocates in community settings, and empowered people with current human rights knowledge. The Timmins event was co-sponsored by the City of Timmins and was held at the McIntyre Centre. Approximately 150 people attended the event.

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Section 2: Mandate

The OHRC was established in 1961 as an arm’s-length agency of government, to prevent discrimination and to promote and advance human rights in Ontario. The OHRC is one pillar of Ontario’s human rights system, together with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC).

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code), the OHRC has a broad statutory mandate to promote, protect and advance respect for human rights, and to identify and promote the elimination of discriminatory practices. The OHRC promotes and enforces human rights to create a culture of human rights accountability. The OHRC works in many ways to fulfill this mandate, including through education, policy development, public inquiries and litigation.

Section 29 of the Code states that the functions of the OHRC are to “promote and advance respect for human rights in Ontario, to protect human rights in Ontario and, recognizing that it is in the public interest to do so and that it is the Commission’s duty to protect the public interest, to identify and promote the elimination of discriminatory practices” and, more specifically,

(a) to forward the policy that the dignity and worth of every person be recognized and that equal rights and opportunities be provided without
discrimination that is contrary to law;

(b) to develop and conduct programs of public information and education;

(i) to promote awareness and understanding of, respect for and compliance with this Act, and

(ii) prevent and eliminate discriminatory practices that infringe rights under Part I;

(c) to undertake, direct and encourage research into discriminatory practices and to make recommendations designed to prevent and eliminate
such discriminatory practices;

(d) to examine and review any statute or regulation, and any program or policy made by or under a statute, and make recommendations on any
provision, program or policy that in its opinion is inconsistent with the intent of this Act;

(e) to initiate reviews and inquiries into incidents of tension or conflict, or conditions that lead or may lead to incidents of tension or conflict, in a community, institution, industry or sector of the economy, and to make recommendations, and encourage and co-ordinate plans, programs and activities, to reduce or prevent such incidents or sources of tension or conflict;

(f) to promote, assist and encourage public, municipal or private agencies, organizations, groups or persons to engage in programs to alleviate
tensions and conflicts based upon identification by a prohibited ground of discrimination;

(g) to designate programs as special programs in accordance with section 14;

(h) to approve policies under section 30;

(i) to make applications to the Tribunal under section 35;

(j) to report to the people of Ontario on the state of human rights in Ontario and on its affairs;

(k) to perform the functions assigned to the Commission under this or any other Act.  2006, c. 30, s. 4.

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OHRC vision and mission

Vision: An inclusive society where everyone takes responsibility for promoting and protecting human rights; where everyone is valued and treated with equal dignity and respect; and where everyone’s human rights are a lived reality.

Mission: To promote and enforce human rights, to engage in relationships that embody the principles of dignity and respect, and to create a culture of human rights compliance and accountability. We act as a driver for social change based on principles of substantive equality. We accomplish our mission by exposing, challenging and ending entrenched and widespread structures and systems of discrimination through education, policy development, public inquiries and litigation. 

OHRC governance and operation

Under the Code, the OHRC is composed of persons appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (Commissioners), who have knowledge, experience or training in human rights law and issues, and who broadly reflect the diversity of Ontario’s population.

OHRC Commissioners are responsible for helping the Chief Commissioner to provide strategic leadership and direction, including setting the OHRC’s mission, vision, goals, objectives and strategic direction. For example, Commissioners develop and approve the OHRC’s Strategic Plan, Annual Report and Business Plan, and evaluate the OHRC’s performance and impact. Commissioners also make recommendations, and review and approve major initiatives, including litigation, public inquiries and human rights policies. 

Commissioners represent diverse communities and regions across the province. In addition to their governance role outlined in the Code, they strengthen the OHRC’s understanding of and relationships with the community. Commissioners are important liaisons between the OHRC and the community, often connecting the OHRC with credible groups and individuals actively working on relevant issues. Commissioners also play an important role in bringing issues of community concern to the attention of the OHRC, and providing strategic advice on how to address them.

As a full-time appointee, the Chief Commissioner engages with community members on a near-daily basis. This includes:

  • Meeting and corresponding with leaders of community and advocacy organizations, human rights duty holders, academics, etc.
  • Engaging with Indigenous communities, as well as the leadership of organizations that represent Indigenous peoples at the provincial level
  • Attending and speaking at community events
  • Engaging with the public through the media, including social media.

OHRC staff broadly reflect the community and also engage with community members regularly. This includes:

  • Meeting and consulting with community and advocacy groups and people with lived experience and expertise to inform our ongoing work (for example, through meetings with individuals, town halls, round-tables, and online surveys)
  • Providing training to community groups and respondents
  • Organizing at least two “Taking it Local” training days every year (discussed below)
  • Attending community events on behalf of the OHRC
  • Responding to formal correspondence, and telephone and website inquiries
  • Engaging with the public on social media.

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Section 3: Overview of programs and activities

Under the Code, the OHRC has a broad statutory mandate to promote, protect and advance respect for human rights, and to identify and promote the elimination of discriminatory practices. The OHRC works in many different ways to fulfill this mandate, including through education, policy development, public inquiries and litigation.

The OHRC is currently engaged or will engage in activities that are in accordance with the focus areas in our five-year Strategic Plan. The OHRC’s activities will focus on:

  • Embodying human rights by engaging in sustained trusting relationships with Indigenous communities that are built on dignity and respect, and by working to advance reconciliation and substantive equality.
  • Enforcing human rights and seeking accountability in the criminal justice system.
  • Advancing human rights law addressing poverty within a human rights framework.
  • Promoting and strengthening a human rights culture of rights and responsibilities, with a special focus on educating children and youth in our education system and addressing systemic discrimination in our education system.

The OHRC’s current and planned activities in these areas include, but are not limited to:

Reconciliation:

  • Building our internal capacity to be a credible, trustworthy and knowledgeable agent to advance reconciliation and equality
  • Recognizing and reflecting the historical and enduring ways that colonialism continues to affect Indigenous peoples and communities and continues to shape our institutions and systems
  • Enhancing our knowledge and understanding of current issues and needs affecting Indigenous peoples and communities
  • Engaging our Commissioners and senior leaders in dialogue with Indigenous leaders and communities to form sustainable and trusting relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in urban and rural areas throughout Ontario, while acknowledging their status as nations
  • Deepening our analysis and understanding of human rights through reconciliation with Indigenous cultures, laws, concepts of collective community rights and responsibilities, treaties, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Engaging in collaboration with Indigenous communities and groups to respond to and address systemic racism, discrimination and inequality
  • Leveraging the opportunities presented through government commitments to reconciliation.

Criminal justice system:

  • Leveraging current government-led initiatives related to the criminal justice system to make sure that systemic discrimination is acknowledged and addressed
  • Engaging strategically with efforts currently underway to address racial profiling in policing
  • Using our promotion and education functions to make sure that the legal profession and judiciary are able to identify and challenge systemic discrimination
  • Using our public inquiry functions strategically to highlight the lived experience of people who come into contact with these systems
  • Activating our powers to intervene and initiate applications before the HRTO, courts and other tribunals to further transparency and accountability
  • Monitoring, enforcing and reporting on compliance with human rights obligations and policies in these systems.

Poverty:

  • Bringing to light the lived reality of people who experience poverty, homelessness and hunger, and fostering public conversation that explores the links between poverty and systemic discrimination. Exposing to the public and human rights “duty holders” how poverty further entrenches marginalization and vulnerability
  • Using our expertise in policy research and development to deepen policy, legal analysis and understanding of human rights by making connections between Ontario’s human rights framework and international human rights conventions and treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • Using our expertise in policy research and development to deepen analysis and understanding of ways that seemingly neutral systems intersect to create, amplify and accelerate dynamics of systemic discrimination, economic marginalization and social exclusion
  • Bringing a human rights lens to government and community strategies aimed at addressing poverty, homelessness and hunger.

Education:

  • Taking steps to have human rights integrated as an essential aspect of Ontario’s education system
  • Conducting targeted public education with children and youth about human rights and responsibilities and the human rights system
  • Providing opportunities for children and youth to exercise leadership on human rights issues
  • Strategically engaging with and leveraging social media communications
  • Identifying and addressing the systemic discrimination children and youth face in education.

Foundational strengths:

  • Leadership voice: We will clearly communicate why and how people’s experiences are human rights issues. We will speak out about the human toll and cost of discrimination. We will retain capacity to respond strategically to critical and emerging issues across all Code grounds and social areas. We will provide human rights solutions.
  • Our people: We value our people. We will strengthen our organizational culture to foster collaboration, support the achievement of goals, and embody human rights best practices.
  • Our relationships: We will continue to cultivate our relationships with a broad range of individuals, groups, organizations and institutions, including government, NGOs, community groups and human rights duty holders (for example, employers, housing and other service providers). We will continue to strengthen our relationships with the other two pillars of the human rights system, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO).
  • Evidence-informed approaches: We will prioritize evidence-informed approaches to understand the state of human rights and systemic discrimination in Ontario, and to evaluate our own work. Recognizing the need to collect both quantitative and qualitative data, we will use data to be able to show our relevance and the impact of our work. Over the coming three years, we will promote an environment that champions and rewards continuous learning and evaluation.
  • Practical guidance and solutions: We will strive to ensure that policy is translated into practice by duty holders in a way that delivers a lived experience of human rights.

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Section 4: Environmental scan and risks

Hearing from the community

In 2015-2016, the OHRC undertook a strategic planning process that involved extensive conversations with nearly 300 people representing over 80 organizations across Ontario. By far, the strongest theme that emerged was the need to implement a strategic, meaningful, consistent, accessible and sustainable approach to stakeholder engagement. In 2018, the OHRC unveiled our new Community Engagement Strategy, which includes a central role for the OHRC Community Advisory Group.

Under section 31.5 of the Code, the Chief Commissioner may establish advisory groups to advise the OHRC about eliminating discriminatory practices that infringe rights under the Code. The OHRC created a Community Advisory Group (CAG) in 2017. Its members have deep expertise across the four focus areas outlined in our current Strategic Plan. The OHRC’s relationship with the CAG is set out in the Terms of Reference. The overarching goal in bringing together a CAG is to get genuine feedback on the OHRC and its work, and create durable relationships that can be leveraged on both an ad hoc and structured basis throughout the year. One of the purposes of the CAG is to provide a forum for the OHRC to enrich its understanding of environmental factors and critical and emerging issues relevant to its work.

In our midyear survey of CAG members (June 2018) and at this year’s Annual CAG Summit (November 20-21, 2018) members were asked to provide an environmental scan from a community perspective. CAG members identified the following concerns:  

  • Continued importance of human rights organizations and defenders 
  • Rise in hate and right-wing extremism, including white supremacy; increased tolerance for hate incidents, especially outside the Greater Toronto Area; amplification of hate online
  • Rise in divisive politics that undermine the universality of human rights protections and proactive approaches to addressing systemic human rights issues
  • Perceived waning commitment to reconciliation and protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples
  • Public sector spending restrictions which may have a differential negative impact on Code-protected groups
  • Barriers in cooperation between all levels of government to address issues concerning migration.

 

Public opinion

While CAG members have identified significant environmental challenges to advancing human rights in Ontario, a recent Ipsos poll surveying public perspectives on human rights[1] (August 2018) found that most Canadians continue to believe in the importance of protecting and promoting human rights. The poll found that “human rights are considered very important by a majority of Canadians.” Three-quarters of respondents (75%) believe that “human rights are important for creating a fairer society in Canada.” Over half (54%) do not agree that currently “[e]veryone in Canada enjoys the same basic human rights” and a large majority (82%) feel that “[i]t is important to have a law that protects human rights.” Of all of the rights covered by the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Canadians identified “freedom from discrimination” as the most important human right to protect.

While the results indicated a strong belief among Canadians that human rights are important, it was less clear that there is a common understanding as to what protecting and promoting these rights would mean. Only half of the respondents (53%) felt they are knowledgeable about human rights. Moreover, when asked whether “there is such a thing as human rights,” 26% did not know or have an opinion and 9% felt that there is no such thing.[2] 

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Section 5: Strategic directions and implementation plan

The OHRC’s Strategic Plan identifies four priorities and proposes key areas of work to focus on:

 

Strategic focus areas

  • Reconciliation: Embody human rights by engaging in sustaining trusting relationships with Indigenous communities that are built on dignity and respect, and by working to advance reconciliation and substantive equality
  • Criminal justice system: Enforce human rights and reduce systemic discrimination by seeking accountability in the criminal justice system
  • Poverty: Advance the field of human rights law by making clear how systemic discrimination causes and sustains poverty, and addressing poverty within a human rights framework
  • Education: Promote and strengthen a human rights culture in Ontario that encompasses both rights and responsibilities, with a special focus on educating children and youth and addressing systemic discrimination in our education system

Strategic priority

Implementation plan

Reconciliation

  • Building our internal capacity to be a credible, trustworthy and knowledgeable agent to advance reconciliation and equality
  • Recognizing and reflecting the historical and enduring ways that colonialism continues to affect Indigenous peoples and communities and continues to shape our institutions and systems
  • Enhancing our knowledge and understanding of current issues and needs affecting Indigenous peoples and communities
  • Engaging our Commissioners and senior leaders in dialogue with Indigenous leaders and communities to form sustainable and trusting relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in urban and rural areas throughout Ontario, while acknowledging their status as nations
  • Deepening our analysis and understanding of human rights through reconciliation with Indigenous cultures, laws, concepts of collective community rights and responsibilities, treaties, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Engaging in collaboration with Indigenous communities and groups to respond to and address systemic racism, discrimination and inequality
  • Leveraging the opportunities presented through government commitments to reconciliation

Criminal justice system

  • Leveraging current government-led initiatives related to the criminal justice system to make sure that systemic discrimination is acknowledged and addressed
  • Engaging strategically with efforts currently underway to address racial profiling in policing
  • Using our promotion and education functions to make sure that the legal profession and judiciary are able to identify and challenge systemic discrimination
  • Using our public inquiry functions strategically to highlight the lived experience of people who come into contact with these systems
  • Activating our powers to intervene and initiate applications before the HRTO, courts and other tribunals to further transparency and accountability
  • Monitoring, enforcing and reporting on compliance with human rights obligations and policies in these systems

 

 

Poverty

  • Bringing to light the lived reality of people who experience poverty, homelessness and hunger, and stimulating public conversations that explore the links between poverty and systemic discrimination.
  • Exposing to the public and human rights “duty holders” how poverty further entrenches marginalization and vulnerability
  • Using our expertise in policy research and development to deepen policy, legal analysis and understanding of human rights by making connections between Ontario’s human rights framework and international human rights conventions and treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • Using our expertise in policy research and development to deepen analysis and understanding of ways that seemingly neutral systems intersect to create, amplify and accelerate dynamics of systemic discrimination, economic marginalization and social exclusion
  • Bringing a human rights lens to government and community strategies aimed at addressing poverty, homelessness and hunger

Education

  • Taking steps to have human rights integrated as an essential aspect of Ontario’s education system
  • Conducting targeted public education with children and youth about human rights and responsibilities and the human rights system
  • Providing opportunities for children and youth to exercise leadership on human rights issues
  • Strategically engaging with and leveraging social media communications
  • Identifying and addressing the systemic discrimination children and youth face in education

 

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Section 6: Human capital plan – Appendix  

Human resources:

The OHRC adheres to all Ontario Public Service (OPS) policies, directives and guidelines related to human resources management, and works with the Ministry of the Attorney General to comply with all applicable administrative standards. 

Anticipated budget pressures over the next three years will require the OHRC to adapt its human capital strategy to ensure it has the capacity and appropriate resources in place to meet current and future business needs.

Staff Recognition: 

Many OHRC staff members were nominated by the senior management team for an Amethyst Award in June of 2018 for their team work creating the Community Advisory Summit.

In September 2018 – the OHRC won a National HR Award in the category for Employment Lawyer of the Year. The legal team was nominated by the Senior Management team.

Commissioners:

Renu Mandhane was appointed as the OHRC’s Chief Commissioner on October 30, 2015 to an initial two-year term. She has since been reappointed to a three-year term, effective October 30, 2017. The Chief Commissioner is the only full-time appointee, and oversees all the part-time Commissioner appointees.

ommissioners provide strategic direction and governance, and ensure that the OHRC acts in the public interest.  The Commissioners meet in-person on a quarterly basis to approve strategic initiatives.  The terms for Commissioners Lee, Khedr and Switzer end in 2018.  Commissioner Tchatat’s term will end in early 2019, leaving the OHRC with six Commissioners.  To meet the priorities set out in the OHRC’s strategic plan and ensure accountability to the public, succession of these positions will need to be addressed in the near future.

 

 

Tenure

      From

To

Mendes, Errol

08-Sep-2009

07-Sep-2019

Gusella, Mary

24-Feb-2016

24-Nov-2019

Switzer, Maurice

22-Jun-2016

31-Dec-2018

Drake, Karen

22-Jun-2016

21-Jun-2019

McKenzie, Kwame

22-Jun-2016

21-Jun-2019

Porter, Bruce

30-Jun-2016

29-Jun-2019

Khedr, Rabia

28-Sep-2016

27-Sep-2018

Tchatat, Léonie-Françoise

02-Feb-2017

01-Feb-2019

Lee, Julie

08-Sep-2009

03-Mar-2018

 

Employees:

Representation Category

Actual FTE Positions

Funded FTE Positions

Classified

Unclassified

Classified

Unclassified

ALOC

5

2

6

1

AMAPCEO

12

3

21

0

MCP

4

1

5

0

OIC

1

0

1

0

OPSEU

6

3

15

0

SMG

1

0

1

0

TOTAL STAFF

29

9

49

1

TEMPORARY

3

(as of December 31, 2018)

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Initiatives: 

Increase workforce flexibility and mobility

  • Developed and implemented issues management process and internal communications strategy
  • Established transparent governance structure with clearly defined roles, responsibilities and decision-making process
  • Created interdisciplinary teams to work on OHRC projects/initiatives related to strategic focus areas
  • Utilize connective technologies (VPN access, OWA, ActiveSync) to communicate and coordinate responses to emerging issues, even while away from the office
  • Alternative work arrangements, including compressed work weeks and  flexible work schedules are made available to support work-life balance
  • Provide opportunities for cross training among staff members to build capacity

Develop leadership, management and professional skills

  • Provide orientation training for new staff and Commissioners
  • Management to provide coaching and mentorship to staff
  • Knowledge transfer processes in place (i.e. handover-takeover)
  • Support staff development, training and career development opportunities
  • Plan and organize all-staff meetings and Commissioner and staff training sessions to provide information and updates on strategic focus areas
  • Organize staff “lunch and learns” on a variety of topics
  • Continue succession planning to meet future operational needs

Employer of choice

  • Enabling a stable, effective and focused workforce
  • Diversity and Inclusion Plans
  • Accessibility Plan
  • Employee engagement activities
  • Learning and development opportunities
  • Fair and equitable recruitment processes

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Human capital goals:

Our staff and leadership are integral to the success of the OHRC. Over the next three years, we will continue to focus on creating a supportive work environment and strengthening our organizational culture. We will seek to improve personal and organizational well-being and connectedness through achievement of the goals set out in our Strategic Plan: 

Ensuring that each staff member feels valued and recognized

  • Motivating employees by reflecting on past accomplishments and emphasizing the positive impact of our work (i.e. weekly recognition emails etc.)
  • Based on staff feedback, organizing two vicarious trauma sessions facilitated by MAG
  • Nominating staff for awards and honours

Fostering teamwork and collaboration

  • Utilizing inter-disciplinary teams to work across branches on various projects
  • Promoting employee engagement by organizing all-staff meetings and training events (based on staff input), quarterly all-staff potluck lunches, teambuilding/group activities in and out of work, and maintaining a staff suggestion box
  • Providing regular opportunities for staff to gather in an informal way (yoga, United Way activities)

Making sure each staff member can identify the connection between their role and the OHRC’s vision

  • Providing more opportunities for staff involvement in the issues identification and business planning processes
  • Developing a comprehensive onboarding process that provides new employees with the tools and information they need to be successful in their roles

Strengthening achievement of our priorities through effective leadership and accountability

  • Adopting a People-First plan with staff input that takes feedback generated from the staff engagement survey results
  • Timely information sharing (e.g. circulation of Direct Management meeting minutes, Senior Management meeting minutes, Executive Director reports, and Commission Meeting minutes to all staff)
  • Effective performance management to ensure each employee receives the training and support they need to achieve their personal and professional goals
  • Facilitating open communication and constructive feedback by adopting an open-stance approach to their interactions with staff, other managers and Commissioners
  • Senior Management underwent training from the Rotman School of Management. These sessions took managers through a series of organizational culture and self-awareness scenarios, to elicit change and a better understanding of the needs of others, accountability and commonality.

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Organizational values:

The OHRC Strategic Plan outlines our agency’s values as follows:

  • Respectful, engaged, trusting and collaborative relationships: We will engage in respectful, trusting and collaborative relationships, and put the lived-experience of people at the centre of our work.
  • Transformative approaches: We will be courageous, persistent, creative and innovative in pursuing systemic change and real impact.
  • Integrity: We will be principled and independent in advancing and securing substantive equality.
  • Accountability: We will be transparent and accountable to the people of Ontario both in terms of the pursuit of our mandate and the use of our resources.

At a staff level, the OHRC values personal and professional development, diversity and inclusion, and work-life balance. Some of the initiatives we have undertaken to promote these values are:

Personal and professional development

  • As part of the onboarding process, managers provide orientation and training to new staff members to help familiarize them with the organization, their roles and accompanying expectations. When a new employee has settled into their role, managers will work with them to prepare a professional development plan that outlines their career goals, the organization’s business needs, required knowledge/skills/abilities, and the resources needed to support their ongoing learning and development. From there, professional development plans are reviewed regularly with the employee to assess progress, provide feedback and make changes if necessary.
  • To build competency, staff are encouraged to take courses offered by OPS Learning and Development, and budget permitting, external courses related to their professional development plans.
  • Whenever possible, management supports internal promotional/development opportunities, career advancement opportunities in and out of the OPS/BPS, and are always available to provide coaching and mentorship.

Diversity and inclusion

  • The OHRC has a diverse workforce, and sees diversity as its strength. At present, we have slightly more staff that identify as females than as males, ranging in age from 25 to 62, and representative of various racial backgrounds, creeds and countries of origin. OHRC staff bring diverse experiences to the organization, having worked in various fields prior to joining the OHRC (e.g. social work, for-profit and non-profit organizations). This diversity is also reflected in our OIC appointments. Our Commissioners are broadly representative of Code-protected groups, and come from a variety of professional backgrounds (e.g. legal, academic, non-profit, social justice, mental health and human rights policy) 
  • To attract a diverse group of candidates for potential job openings, in addition to standard job postings on the OPS Careers website, the OHRC has advertised in ethnic and multicultural newspapers, and sends job notices to our diverse network of contacts and stakeholders. 
  • The OHRCs diversity and inclusion plans outline policies and processes that promote mutual respect and understanding, and support the notion of different backgrounds, perspectives and ideas coming together and working in unison to produce innovative solutions to important human rights issues in Ontario. 
  • The OHRC’s support of diversity and inclusion is further evidenced in the designated bilingual (French) positions we maintain in branches that interact regularly with the public. These positions bring a French-language perspective to our work, and enable us to serve Ontario’s Francophone community.
  • The OHRC inclusion efforts also include developing individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities, and generally providing each employee with the tools and support they need to participate in and contribute to the success of the organization.

Work-life balance

  • The OHRC understands that our employees have commitments and challenges outside of work that may require accommodation at times. To accommodate staff needs, alternative work arrangements, such as flexible work hours and compressed work weeks are available in accordance with OPS human resources policies. Additionally, employees may request and be permitted to work from home on a case-by-case basis.

Human capital challenges:

Although the OHRC has experienced relatively low staff turnover and benefited from a stable workforce, it foresees certain human capital challenges in the coming years: 

Aligning resources with shifting business needs

  • The OHRC’s business needs are evolving. Our latest strategic plan identified new strategic priorities and focus areas. Effectively delivering on these strategic priorities will require certain skills and competencies. In particular, the OHRC requires staff with:
    • advanced knowledge of qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis to support an evidence-based approach
    • investigative knowledge and experience to further plans to conduct inquiries under the Code
    • experience and knowledge in creating and maintaining electronic/online resources (e.g. social media, website) 
  • Budget limitations may create barriers to talent acquisition, and may require the OHRC to build the required capacities from within the organization.      

Resource limitations

  • Budget pressures and corresponding resource limitations will require the OHRC to be more selective with its public engagement, outreach and education activities, which may limit the OHRC’s ability to meet its provincial mandate.

Initiatives undertaken to address:

  • The OHRC uses interactive online communication tools, like webinars, to achieve cost-effective province-wide reach
  • Senior management and Commissioners identify ways to reduce costs (e.g. through partnerships with other organizations)
  • Feedback from “Taking it Local” events, community tours, public consultations and other stakeholder engagement activities informs decision-making
  • The OHRC leverages its Community Advisory Group members, Commissioners and their networks to keep abreast of critical and emerging issues in communities across Ontario.

Improving Indigenous cultural competency

  • To build on the OHRC’s deep commitment to Indigenous reconciliation, the OHRC requires ongoing cultural competency training and recruitment of Indigenous staff with lived experience, as well as staff with deep experience working with Indigenous communities.

Improving employee engagement

  • Keeping employees motivated and engaged is a challenge for any organization. It is not unusual for employees, at times, to feel detached from their role in the organization. A lack of empowerment or meaningful opportunities to express their ideas, opinions and expertise, can lead to disenchantment among employees. The situation is further exacerbated when employee perceive that their ideas, opinions and expertise are not valued, or given due consideration by management.  
  • To address these challenges, the OHRC is developing a detailed and dynamic employee engagement plan (People First Plan) which draws on the Employee Engagement results, Branch-specific action plans, and one-on-one staff meetings with the Executive Director, and will include more regular staff engagement with Senior Management and Commissioners.

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Human resource needs for OHRC priorities:

Communications and Issues Management (CIM) team: to develop and disseminate key institutional messages, promote the OHRC’s brand and public image, manage information programs/platforms (e.g.. print materials, social media, website, webinars), provide timely and accurate analysis of critical and emerging human rights issues, anticipate and effectively respond to contentious issues in the media, and be the first point of contact for policy-related inquiries.

The unit also supports the public relations and community engagement activities of the Chief Commissioner, Executive Director, Policy and Legal teams, through handling media relations, event coordination and speech writing.

3-year outlook: The CIM team will continue to build competency and capacity through ongoing learning and development (e.g. latest developments in social media; emerging communication technologies, trends, methods, and best practises)

Part of our performance measurement initiatives will involve greater use of analytics tools (e.g. Google analytics) to determine social media reach and impact, and identify areas for improvement in our communications strategies.   

As we move increasingly towards a web-based communications approach, the team will seek to add technical proficiencies in web design, development and maintenance.

 

Policy, Education, Monitoring and Outreach (PEMO) team: to develop and interpret human rights policy, provide policy advice, monitor human rights concerns in society, government and proposed legislation, build and maintain relationships with stakeholder communities, and cultivate partnerships that align with our strategic priorities.

The unit conducts public education/outreach/training programs and creates electronic education tools (e.g. eLearning modules) to increase awareness and understanding of the Ontario Human Rights Code, and related Commission policies/guidelines. 

3-year outlook: The PEMO team will continue to build competency and capacity through ongoing learning and development.

To support an evidence-based approach to our work, the team will look to add data gathering and analysis expertise. The team will also work towards building its cultural competency on Indigenous issues through training and recruitment of staff.

 

Legal Services and Inquiries (LSI) team: to provide legal and inquiry services in accordance with the Commission’s strategic priority focus areas.

The unit provides legal advice to the Chief Commissioner and Executive Director, leads public interest inquiries under the Code, and initiates or intervenes in targeted human rights applications to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) to advance human rights law and establish legal precedents. The unit also initiates interventions in the courts and other tribunals.

3-year outlook: The LSI team will continue to build competency and capacity through ongoing learning and development.

To conduct large and complex public interest inquiries under the Code, the team will look to increase its data gathering and analysis expertise, and recruit employees with investigative knowledge and experience.

Lawyers will continue to enhance their professional knowledge, skills, attitudes and ethics through fulfilling their continuing professional development (CPD) requirements.  

The LSI team will also work towards building its cultural competency on Indigenous issues through training and recruitment of staff. 

 

Leadership team: to guide the organization towards achieving its vision, mission, goals and objectives.       

The Chief Commissioner’s Office (CCO) provides strategic direction and guides the Commission in setting its vision, mission, goals and objectives. The office ensures that the OHRC carries out its statutory functions in a way that protects and promotes human rights in Ontario at both the government and community levels.

The Chief Commissioner and Commissioners are responsible for evaluating the OHRC’s progress in meeting its stated objectives, and for conducting public communications and stakeholder relations activities.

The Executive Director’s Office (EDO) provides strategic leadership to the OHRC’s senior management team, oversees the development and implementation of business and operational plans, and leads the planning and execution of organizational improvement initiatives.

The EDO is also responsible for addressing Freedom of Information requests and Ombudsman issues.

Individual branch managers help to operationalize the OHRC’s strategic plan by overseeing branch functions and providing guidance to staff.  

3-year outlook: The Leadership team will continue to build competency and capacity through ongoing learning and development (e.g. refining leadership skills, concepts and techniques) as outlined above.

 

Centralized Corporate Services (CCS) team: to provide information technology, human resources, financial and facilities management support to program areas.

The unit is also responsible for ensuring that the OHRC meets it Certificate of Assurance commitments, and complies with all applicable OPS policies and directives.   

3-year outlook: The CCS team will continue to build competency and capacity through ongoing learning and development as outlined above.

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Section 7: Information Technology (IT) / Electronic Service Delivery (ESD) Plan

The OHRC is a statutory human rights agency that maintains a website with human rights information and resources. Resources include policies and guidelines, research documents, curriculum supports, brochures, and a variety of eLearning content. The website is also used as a link to surveys in support of OHRC policy consultation and research activities, and contains a public education request form that can be directly submitted online.

In the coming year, efforts will be made to review and enhance the website and its functions to the public. Also, the OHRC will release an updated version of its foundational eLearning product, Human Rights 101. The OHRC is also identifying and developing eLearning products aimed at supporting Teaching human rights in Ontario, a resource for Ontario teachers. 

The OHRC also maintains a major social media presence. @OntHumanRights is on several platforms: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The OHRC has recently begun to livestream press conferences, talks and events. This is in line with the strategic priority of providing practical guidance to facilitate duty holders’ compliance with human rights obligations.

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Section 8: Initiatives involving third parties

The OHRC leverages its mandated functions, resources and strategic priorities by exchanging information and working in cooperation or partnership with other government agencies, ministries, non-governmental organizations and individuals from a wide range of communities across Ontario.

Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres

The OHRC continues its collaborations with Indigenous groups to address anti-Indigenous discrimination. This includes its partnership and MOU with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC). This agreement has facilitated collaboration with urban Indigenous communities that is based on trust, dignity, respect, and a shared commitment to reconciliation and substantive equality. Under this agreement, the OFIFC and OHRC have and will continue to work together to build the capacity and human rights knowledge of OFIFC and Friendship Centre staff, share information and data, engage with urban Indigenous people on policy development, and coordinate provincial advocacy in key areas such as health care, child welfare and criminal justice. This agreement reflects the OHRC’s commitment to engage with Indigenous leaders and communities on common issues and concerns. It has connected the OHRC with the nearly two-thirds of Indigenous people who live in urban areas and receive Code protection from discrimination in housing, employment and services. Friendship Centres are the primary service delivery agents for Indigenous people seeking culturally sensitive and culturally appropriate services in urban communities.

In addition to our work with the OFIFC, the OHRC continues to engage in discussions to formalize our relationship with the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) and has now also engaged the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) to take steps towards establishing a partnership agreement. 

Human Rights Legal Support Centre

The OHRC strengthened collaboration with Human Rights Legal Support Centre through signing an MOU and increased coordination at the governance level that was achieved by reports at each meeting from the cross-appointed Commissioners.

OHRC Community Advisory Group

Under section 31.5 of the Code, the Chief Commissioner may establish advisory groups to advise the OHRC about eliminating discriminatory practices that infringe rights under the Code. The OHRC created a Community Advisory Group (CAG) in 2017. Its members have deep expertise across the four focus areas outlined in our current Strategic Plan. The OHRC’s relationship with the CAG is set out in the Terms of Reference. The overarching goal in bringing together a CAG is to get genuine feedback on the OHRC and its work, and create durable relationships that can be leveraged on both an ad hoc and structured basis throughout the year.

Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA)

The OHRC is a member of the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA), which meets monthly by teleconference, and bi-annually in person. The mandate of CASHRA is to exchange information, best practices, research and public education materials, and coordinate communication on issues of common concern. The OHRC hosted CASHRA’s mid-year meeting on November 19 & 20, 2018.

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Section 9: Communications Plan

The OHRC will focus on communicating broadly, clearly and in a timely way to provide effective leadership that advances the realization of human rights. The OHRC will speak out, especially on issues relating to its focus areas in the Strategic Plan, about the impact of discrimination and the importance of accountability for human rights compliance. The OHRC will retain capacity to respond strategically to critical and emerging issues across all Code grounds and social areas. The OHRC has developed a social media and communication strategy to raise public awareness of our messages through new platforms. We have also begun updating our website based on an accessibility audit and input from our CAG members.

Key objectives

  • Communicate clearly, transparently and regularly using an improved weekly issues management process
  • Develop and integrate communications strategies as early as possible in all initiatives, including developing key messages
  • Leverage our leadership voice, relationships and profile with key individuals and organizations, particularly in our areas of strategic focus
  • Improve our profile in traditional and social media through active monitoring and establishing a more streamlined process for generating proactive
    and reactive key messages
  • Enhance tracking for public information requests to document trends and identify opportunities for improving information relevant to policies.

Target audiences

The OHRC’s aim is to target its communication and education to employers and service providers, Code-protected groups, key community leaders, potential respondent community groups, as well as government ministries and agencies.

Key messages

It is critical for our stakeholders and the public to be able to communicate with the OHRC. The OHRC has created a communication strategy that includes a plan for engaging with the public, primarily through social media and our leadership voice. Our target audience includes all Ontarians, especially people who fall within our priority areas: reconciliation, criminal justice system, poverty and education. The OHRC interacts with members of the media through press releases, interview requests, media pitches, social media, opinion editorials and targeted product launches. The communications team has come up with templated key message documents that present examples and issues that equip the Chief Commissioner and Commissioners to speak in a unified voice about issues that the OHRC has taken on and are of interest to the public and media.

Communication plans also includes materials that meet accessibility requirements by different users, including people with visual or hearing disabilities.

Key opportunities, dates and deliverables

Leveraging opportunities by planning public activities, and monitoring day-to-day responses to emerging issues, through an effective issues management system.

Emerging human rights issues are identified through media monitoring, stakeholders, advisory groups, Commissioners, government initiatives including legislation and regulations, cases of interest at the HRTO, HRLSC or in the courts.

Public presence includes media, community relations activities, issuing public statements, news releases, speeches, backgrounders, fact sheets, brochures or other handouts, videos, eLearning modules, public consultations, launches of reports and policies, public inquiries and legal interventions, and other OHRC public awareness and outreach activities. The OHRC also maintains an active social media presence on popular platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Periscope, YouTube and Instagram.

In accordance with the requirements of the Code, the OHRC releases its annual report for submission by June 30 each year to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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Section 10: Diversity and inclusion plan

The OHRC’s diversity and inclusion plan sets out four goals, and outlines the actions we are taking to achieve them.

People: The OHRC’s Commissioners, senior management and staff reflect the diversity of Ontario, and generally exceed the diversity data of both the Ontario Public Service and the population of Ontario. Our employment competitions are advertised broadly beyond traditional mainstream media. The OHRC follows the French Language Services Act requirements and has designated French staff for each area that has contact with the public.

Processes: The OHRC adheres to all applicable policies and legislation including the Ontario Public Service’s Respectful Workplace Policy (Policy to Support a Respectful Workplace and Prevent Workplace Harassment and Discrimination).

Policy: The OHRC abides by the requirements of the Employment Accommodation and Return to Work Operating Policy, the Equal Opportunity Operating Policy, the Code of Ethics, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Services: The OHRC informs employees, clients and the general public about its commitment to accommodate disability, creed and other Code-related needs at meetings and events upon request. The OHRC chooses meeting and event sites and refreshments that are inclusive and barrier free, and provides sign language interpreters or captioning at general public events or upon request. Our website fulfills prevailing standards for accessibility, and we will continue to explore improvements.

Results: The OHRC will continue to strive to have its staff reflect the diverse population of Ontario, at all levels including individuals from the Indigenous community.

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Section 11: Multi-year accessibility plan

The OHRC has prepared a multi-year accessibility plan in accordance with the regulated standards and other requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The OHRC interprets these requirements in accordance with the duty to accommodate disability under the Human Rights Code and the OHRC’s mandate-related public policies, having regard for the Ontario Public Service’s Multi-year Accessibility Plan, as well as the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Barrier review, removal and accessibility planning

The OHRC has implemented several initiatives to remove any barriers that may exist for employees and members of the public:

  • Staff email signatures include information about the OHRC’s policy on providing goods and services to people with disabilities
  • Accessible telephone script to connect the public with OHRC staff as quickly as possible; and an accessible public telephone in our office lobby
  • Accessible private quiet room for staff and visitors who require a space because of illness or a disability, or other appropriate needs, such as creed accommodation or breastfeeding
  • Provides opportunity for participant feedback at the end of education and training sessions to learn whether participant accommodation needs were met and how to improve accessibility
  • Provides documents in accessible formats internally and externally
  • Conducts periodic inclusive design reviews of its offices to address any accessibility issues for visitors and employees with disabilities, with support from the Ministry of the Attorney General’s facilities branch
  • Accessible lighting in its boardrooms
  • Between 2019 and 2020, the OHRC will continue to conduct an accessibility review of barriers and emerging best practices for the way it makes information available to the public
  • Regularly reviews software and information storage systems to identify and address any barriers in consultation with employees with disabilities.

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AODA standards implementation status

Customer service

  • The OHRC adheres to its policies and procedures on providing goods and services to people with disabilities as published on its website
  • The OHRC provides local and toll-free TTY numbers for communication with people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing
  • The OHRC uses a range of communication methods such as email and social media platforms to communicate with stakeholders and communities
  • All OHRC-hosted public events take place at accessible locations. The OHRC’s Special Events Coordinator visits each proposed event space to make sure that it is fully accessible
  • Standard language on all invitations asks people to contact the OHRC about their need for any additional accommodation before event dates
  • A feedback process is available on the OHRC’s website. People can also provide feedback via telephone, TTY, mail or fax. The OHRC will review the feedback, try to resolve any issues and provide a response within 14 business days.

Procurement

  • The OHRC continues to comply with the OPS Guidelines: Meeting Accessibility Obligations in Procurement and the Management Board of Cabinet Procurement Directive, December 2014, as well as AODA regulated procurement standards
  • The OHRC identifies accessibility requirements in project terms of reference, requests for proposals and contracts with third-party service providers
  • Web developers and any other external vendors are selected, in part, based on their experience designing accessible websites and other products.

Information and communication

  • The OHRC provides communication supports including sign language interpretation and captioning at public events; and on request for other
    meetings and events
  • The OHRC’s website is designed to comply with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA; tools and products used to develop the website and other online materials have built-in accessibility features
    • Online materials, such as eLearning modules, are tested regularly during development and afterward by staff and external contacts who have disabilities
    • All publications and correspondence are available in accessible digital formats, including HTML and accessible PDFs for all new publications
    • Captioning and transcripts are provided for all video content.
  • The OHRC has an internal guide on plain language writing and uses it to train staff. An updated version will be finalized early in 2019.

Employment

  • The OHRC follows the OPS Employee Accommodation and Return to Work Guidelines and Operating Policy for developing and documenting individual accommodation plans, return-to-work plans and workplace emergency response information for employees with disabilities
  • Hiring managers inform prospective employees about the means for testing and evaluating candidates and that accommodations are available throughout the process
  • The OHRC is a scent-sensitive workplace.

Accessibility training

  • All Commissioners and staff are trained on disability-related policies and procedures, including AODA mandatory training on providing accessible customer service to persons with disabilities, and on the relationship between the AODA and the Code. The OHRC developed the Working Together eLearning module for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario for this purpose
  • Staff received specialized training on emerging technologies, designing accessible eLearning modules, and other topics to improve the accessibility of the OHRC’s online resources.

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Section 12: Three-year financial plan

The OHRC complies with Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet and Ministry of Finance directives concerning financial management and accountability, and works with the Ministry of the Attorney General to meet all applicable reporting requirements.  

The OHRC is responsible for the commitments made in its approved business plan, and for ensuring that the actions it takes to fulfill its statutory mandate reflect and respect the law.

The OHRC is accountable to the Legislative Assembly through its annual reports, and to the Attorney General through regular financial and administrative reporting.

Cost-reduction strategies:

The OHRC’s operating budget is scheduled to decrease over the next three years, as human rights issues increase in complexity and public profile. In spite of these fiscal challenges, the OHRC will work to manage costs and meet its objectives within existing resource levels by:

  • Managing position vacancies (e.g. delaying and/or foregoing the backfill of vacated positions)
  • Using attrition and building capacity to reduce staffing costs (e.g. enable staff to take on the responsibilities of vacated positions by supporting ongoing learning and development)
  • Reassessing job descriptions against current program requirements and if appropriate, rewriting and/or reclassifying certain positions (i.e. to a lower level)
  • Increasing use of online/electronic resources like social media and the OHRC website to disseminate information (more cost-effective than traditional printing)
  • Making all policy documents available in an accessible PDF format (to reduce printing costs)
  • Using teleconferences/webinars/webcasts in place of in-person meetings where possible and practical (to reduce travel costs) 
  • Using the most cost-effective mode(s) of transportation when travelling for business (e.g. public transit instead of taxi)
  • Using internal resources to perform some previously outsourced tasks (e.g. publication design)
  • Negotiating pricing with suppliers where possible (e.g. expert witness fees)
  • Working with the Ministry to make certain service subscriptions more cost-effective through centralization (e.g. media monitoring)
  • Conducting a comprehensive review and optimization of OHRC voice services (i.e. office landlines/voicemail/business cell phones)
  • Limiting hospitality expenses
  • Prioritizing initiatives and partnering with other organizations to mitigate costs and leverage resources
  • Looking for efficiencies and cost-reduction options at every stage of the business planning and implementation process
  • Keeping discretionary spending at a minimum (e.g. OHRC’s participation in external conferences).

 

2017-18 Actual Expenditures

Expense Category

2017-18

Budget

2017-18

Actuals

Explanation of Variance

Operating

 

 

 

Salaries and Wages (S&W)

4,682.1

3,876.8

The OHRC managed position vacancies to cover costs in other areas identified at the start of the year (i.e. Benefits, Services, Supplies & Equipment)

Certain vacated positions were not filled/backfilled due to shifting organizational priorities, improvements in operational efficiency and the prospect of further budget constraints.

Other vacated positions remained unfilled for a period of time due to lengthy recruitment processes.

 

Benefits

362.2

488.0

The allocation for benefits was lower than the actual amount required to support staffed positions. 

ODOE

 

 

 

Transportation and Communications (T&C)

193.2

179.9

The OHRC reduced its travel costs by utilizing online/electronic resources to facilitate public engagement and stakeholder communication activities (i.e. webinars, webcasts, social media, OHRC website, teleconferencing)

Services

296.5

609.3

In 2017-18, as part of its efforts at reconciliation and advancing Indigenous human rights, the OHRC, in collaboration with various partners, organized a dialogue focussed on understanding Indigenous perspectives on human rights and discussing how human rights systems could be adapted to better align with these (Indigenous) perspectives. Costs were incurred to host this event.

Enforcing human rights and reducing systemic discrimination in the criminal justice system involves complex litigation and inquiries, which in 2017-18, required the use of experts to support OHRC positions.  

The OHRC spreads awareness and understanding of the Ontario Human Rights Code and related Commission policies/guideline through public education/training events. In 2017-18, costs were incurred to host these events and ensure accessibility.

To promote a human rights culture in Ontario and deliver on its public education mandate, the OHRC must ensure that the information it provides is accessible to all people and communities. Significant costs (e.g. printing, translation, document remediation) were incurred to produce new policy documents, guidelines and other educational materials in various formats and languages.

In 2016-17, the OHRC conducted a public opinion survey on human rights in Ontario which included a detailed report of the findings. Production costs were incurred in 2017-18 related to public release. 

The OHRC retained consulting services in 2017-18 to facilitate a two-day summit it held to meet with and garner feedback its Community Advisory Group (CAG) members. These members are representative of the OHRC’s four strategic focus areas (reconciliation, criminal justice, poverty and education), and have considerable expertise in their respective fields.

OHRC Commissioners receive per diems for the work they perform on behalf of the OHRC. These per diems are paid through Services. Implementing the OHRC's new strategic plan required greater Commissioner involvement and consultation in 2017-18.

The OHRC employs a media monitoring/news clipping service to identify and track media content (e.g. news articles) of interest/relevance to the OHRC. The OHRC requires this service to stay informed of and respond quickly to critical and emerging human rights issues.

The OHRC’s public information/communication tools including its website, social media networks and telephone line need to be updated regularly to meet evolving consumer needs, including accessibility. In 2017-18, the OHRC started the process of updating its website.   

The OHRC’s operating expenses include substantial costs for IT hardware, software and support services.    

The OHRC has its own IT systems, including directory domain, exchange and file servers. Four servers had been operating beyond their intended life cycle, and were replaced in 2016-17. These servers are being paid for annually up to 2020-21.         

Supplies and Equipment (S&E)

28.2

109.6

Services incorrectly coded to Supplies and Equipment (by Ontario Shared Services), when paid by p-card, contributed to this variance.

TOTAL Operating

5,562.2

5,263.6

 

 

 

Multi-Year Operating Budget

Expense Category

2018-19

Budget

2018-19

YE Forecast

Explanation of Variance

2019-20

Budget

2020-21

Budget

2021-22

Budget

Operating

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salaries and Wages (S&W)

4,601.4

3,991.3

The OHRC is managing position vacancies to cover costs in other areas identified at the start of the year (i.e. Compensation Increases, Benefits, Services)

Certain vacated positions were not filled/backfilled due to shifting organizational priorities, improvements in operational efficiency and the prospect of further budget constraints.

Other vacated positions remained unfilled for a period of time due to lengthy recruitment processes and hiring restrictions.

 

 

 

Benefits

362.2

453.4

The assigned allocation for benefits is lower than the actual amount required to support staffed positions. 

 

 

 

ODOE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation and Communications (T&C)

193.2

122.6

The OHRC is focussing on ways to reduce its travel costs by utilizing online/electronic resources to facilitate public engagement and stakeholder communication activities (i.e. webinars, webcasts, social media, OHRC website, teleconferencing)

 

 

 

Services

289.1

472.8

Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous communities involves relationship building, the foundation of which is trust and respect. To show appreciation to Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers that participate in our events by sharing their knowledge and life experiences, it is customary to offer honoraria. The offering of honoraria and hospitality signifies trust and respect, and is essential in building strong, enduring relationships with First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities.

Enforcing human rights and reducing systemic discrimination in the criminal justice system involves complex litigation, which will in 2018-19, require the use of several expert witnesses.                                                                                         OHRC Commissioners receive per diems for the work they perform on behalf of the Commission. These per diems are paid through Services.

The OHRC spreads awareness and understanding of the Ontario Human Rights Code and related Commission policies/guidelines through public education/training events. There are costs associated with hosting these events and ensuring accessibility.

To promote a human rights culture in Ontario and deliver on its public education mandate, the OHRC must ensure that its literature is accessible to all people and communities. Significant costs (e.g. printing, translation, document remediation) are incurred to produce new policy documents, guidelines and other educational materials in various formats and languages.

The OHRC employs a media monitoring/news clipping service to identify and track media content (e.g. news articles) of interest/relevance to the OHRC. The OHRC requires this service to stay informed of and respond quickly to critical and emerging human rights issues.

The OHRC’s operating expenses include substantial costs for IT hardware, software and support services.    

The OHRC has its own IT systems, including directory domain, exchange and file servers. Four servers had been operating beyond their intended life cycle and were replaced in 2016-17. These servers are being paid for annually up to 2020-21.         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

 

 

Supplies and Equipment (S&E)

28.2

27.5

 

 

 

 

TOTAL Operating

5,474.1

5,067.6

 

5,383.7

5,301.4

5,301.4

 

 

Section 13: Performance measures and targets

The following are examples of the many key performance indicators (KPIs) that the OHRC will use to guide its work.

 

1 – Reconciliation

KPI

Strategic objectives

Outcomes (2019-20)

Measurements (2019-20)

Strengthened knowledge about and behaviours regarding human rights protections under the Code

  • Building internal capacity to be a credible, trustworthy and knowledgeable institution to advance Indigenous reconciliation and equality
  • Enhancing our knowledge and understanding of current human rights issues affecting Indigenous peoples
  • Staff and Commissioners have a greater understanding of Indigenous issues
  • Deep understanding of Indigenous reconciliation and equality is reflected throughout our work
  • Greater public discourse on the Code issues facing Indigenous peoples

 

  • Qualitative survey of staff and Commissioners
  • Public opinion survey on human rights (which will also serve as a benchmark for future surveys)
  • # of internal training events 

 

Improved awareness of and experience with OHRC

  • Engaging our Commissioners and senior leaders in dialogue with Indigenous leaders and communities to form sustainable and trusting relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in urban and rural areas throughout Ontario, while acknowledging their status as nations
  • Strategic relationships with Indigenous leaders and communities identified, established and maintained
  • Increased presence/visibility in dialogue about reconciliation at the leadership level

 

  • # of meetings with and at Indigenous communities across Ontario
  • # of OHRC speeches and public education sessions for and with Indigenous communities
  • # of references to OHRC work by Indigenous peoples
  • # of participants and # of organizations reached
 

2 – Criminal justice

KPI

Strategic objectives

Outcomes (2019-20)

Measurements (2019-20)

Strong and transparent human rights accountability systems within the criminal justice system, which ensure that human rights obligations are put at the forefront of initiatives and practices

  • Using our promotion and education functions to make sure that the legal profession and judiciary are able to identify and challenge systemic discrimination
  • Using our public inquiry functions strategically to highlight the lived experience of people who come into contact with these systems
  • Activating our powers to intervene and initiate applications before the HRTO, courts and other tribunals to further transparency and accountability
  • Monitoring, enforcing and reporting on compliance with human rights obligations and policies in these systems
  • Increased OHRC capacity to collect, analyze and interpret quantitative and qualitative data
  • Improved collection of data about and evidence of systemic discrimination regarding racial profiling

 

  • # of OHRC-initiated litigation/inquiries related to criminal justice
  • # of systemic remedies obtained
  • # of human rights public education and training opportunities developed and delivered for legal professionals, law enforcement and correctional authorities
  • # of institutions impacted by OHRC interventions and applications at HRTO
  • # of media hits/inquiries/interviews referencing OHRC related to criminal justice issues

 

Strengthened protection for human rights in government laws and policies

  • Leveraging current government-led initiatives related to the criminal justice system to make sure that systemic discrimination is acknowledged and addressed
  • Engaging strategically with efforts currently underway to address racial profiling in policing
  • Government initiatives reflect a human rights lens
  • # of OHRC recommendations to government (submitted/adopted)
  • # of institutions impacted by letters/deputations/
    submissions/reports making recommendations

 

 

 

3 – Poverty

KPI

Strategic objectives

Outcomes (2019-20)

Measurements (2019-20)

  1. Strengthened knowledge about and behaviours relating to human rights protections under the Code
  2. Strengthened knowledge, behaviours and accountabilities relating to human rights obligations among human rights duty holders and within systems/institutions
  • Using our expertise in policy research and development to deepen analysis and understanding of ways that seemingly neutral systems intersect to create, amplify and accelerate dynamics of systemic discrimination, economic marginalization
  • Increased knowledge and understanding among OHRC staff and Commissioners
  • Narrative shift connecting human rights and poverty
  • Internal report on current government and non-governmental poverty-related initiatives Analytical framework that reconciles Ontario’s human rights system with Canada’s international human rights obligations related to poverty, hunger and homelessness
  • Qualitative survey of staff and Commissioners
  • # of research/consultation/policy events and # of organizations and # of individuals reached through these events
  • Internal report initiated on current government and non-governmental poverty-related initiatives

4 – Education

KPI

Strategic objectives

Outcomes (2019-20)

Measurements (2019-20)

Strengthened knowledge about and behaviours relating to human rights protections under the Code

  • Taking steps to have human rights integrated as an essential aspect of Ontario’s education system
  • Human rights are part of the education curriculum
  • Human rights competence identified as essential requirement
  • Increased accountability for systemic discrimination that children and youth face within the education system
  • Environmental scan developed
  • Plan of action developed and adopted
  • # of education/training/outreach events and
    # of organizations and  individuals reached
  • # of social media and website unique visits to education modules

 

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[1] Public Perspectives: Human Rights, IPSOS Public Affairs (August 9, 2018) www.ipsos.com/en-ca/knowledge/society/human-rights (downloaded November 26, 2018)

 

[2] The breakdown of responses to this question (26%, 9%) was not included in the summary of Canadian results (supra, note 1) and is drawn from the report on global results: Human Rights in 2018: A Global Advisor Survey, IPSOS Public Affairs (July 25, 2018)  www.ipsos.com/en-ca/news-polls/global-advisor-human-rights-2018 (downloaded November 26, 2018)