For immediate publication
Toronto - On releasing the Commission’s 2006-2007 Annual Report today at Queen’s Park, Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall commented that, “This has been a year of debate, dialogue and development at the Ontario Human Rights Commission.”
The Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2006 will shift responsibility for handling individual complaints from the Commission to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Chief Commissioner Hall added, “We have been given the opportunity to reshape and improve the state of human rights in Ontario. I have been speaking with groups and individuals across the province, seeking input on our new direction. With the help of these same people – in the community, in government, and in the other pillars of the human rights system – we will build on Commission successes such as those achieved over the past year.”
- Families, employers and service providers will now have clarification about the definition of the ground of family status under the Human Rights Code and how it protects them, following the release of the Commission’s consultation report entitled: The Cost of Caring and a new ground-breaking Policy and Guidelines on Discrimination on the Basis of Family Status.
- The Commission released background and consultation papers on Human Rights and Rental Housing in Ontario. People seeking and living in rental housing, and those who provide it, are learning more about their rights and responsibilities and speaking out this spring with the launch of the Commission’s public consultation on this fundamental area of human rights.
- A recent settlement reached between the Commission and the Ministry of Education led the Ministry to introduce amendments to the Education Act. The settlement provides that, as of this fall, school safety measures will begin to benefit all students equally, regardless of race, and incorporate accommodation for students with disabilities.
- The Commission finalized a working agreement with the Toronto Police Services on a project charter to address complaints and bring about institutional change combatting racism and discrimination.
During the 2006-2007 fiscal period:
- 2,337 new complaints were received and added to the Commission’s caseload;
- 1,978 cases were settled, investigated or otherwise completed by the Commission, on average at 14.6 months;
- 140 cases were referred to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario for a hearing;
- At year-end, the Commission’s active caseload was 3,099 complaints with 5.5% of these being over three years old.
- The Commission also litigated a number of cases that resulted in 47 decisions and 77 settlements at the Human Rights Tribunal as well as 17 decisions from higher courts including 4 cases at the Supreme Court of Canada.
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