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New OHRC Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability

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October 3, 2016

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Toronto – On Thursday, September 29, 2016, Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane launched the OHRC’s Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability. The OHRC introduced its first policy on disability in 2001. Since that time, there have been many important case law developments, new international human rights standards, and evolving social science research.

The new policy was launched at the ARCH Disability Law Centre AGM. The OHRC has worked on many landmark disability cases with ARCH Disability Law, which for 36 years has been a leader in disability law in Ontario and across Canada.

Updated Policy highlights:

  • Includes current case law and best-practice examples from the employment, housing and service sectors.
  • Looks at the evolving legal definition of disability to reflect the changes in what is considered a disability. For example, conditions that were not previously recognized as disabilities in the past now are, such as multiple chemical sensitivities and food-related anaphylaxis.
  • Outlines the history of discrimination based on disability, and discusses ableism as underlying attitudes and beliefs that give rise to discrimination.
  • Recognizes the unique experiences of people who face discrimination based on disability combined with other Code grounds, such as age, sex, sexual orientation, race, another type of disability, etc.
  • Clarifies what medical information can and can’t be asked for when a person makes an accommodation request, and clearly states that employers, housing and service providers have a duty to inquire if they think someone may need an accommodation based on a disability, even if the person hasn’t made a specific request.
  • Additional handouts:

For media inquiries, contact:

Afroze Edwards
Sr. Communications Officer, OHRC

Vanessa Tamburro
Information Officer, OHRC