Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission released a Consultation Report today called Strengthening Ontario’s Human Rights System: What We Heard. It reflects the feedback of a broad range of individuals and organizations that participated in a critical review of Ontario’s human rights system.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission has mediated a positive settlement with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. The four complaints arose from concerns that the application of school discipline policies was having a discriminatory impact on students from racialized communities and students with disabilities.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) is receiving international attention for its work combating ageism and age discrimination. Chief Commissioner Keith Norton was recently invited to speak at the International Symposium on Age Discrimination held in London, England, in September. He presented a paper on the Commission’s approach to fighting ageism and age discrimination to an audience of international human rights practitioners.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) has settled a Thunder Bay case concerning discrimination based on sexual orientation. A mediated agreement between the parties involved will result in increased education and understanding around sexual diversity issues for students and staff of the Lakehead District School Board (the “Board’).
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today called on government, non-governmental organizations, and individuals interested in human rights to participate in a review of the province’s human rights system to determine how it can be made stronger and more effective.
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today released his 2004-2005 Annual Report marking the near completion of his final term as head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) has initiated a complaint against the Ministry of Education (the “Ministry”) and the Toronto District School Board (the “TDSB”) alleging that the application of the Safe Schools Act and related school discipline policies is having a disproportional impact on racialized students and students with disabilities.
Toronto - “It is time organizations and institutions acknowledge the reality of racism and be prepared to act against subtle and sometimes subconscious prejudices and stereotypes that too often result in discrimination”, said Keith Norton, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission today as he announced the release of the Commission’s Policy and Guidelines on Racism and Racial Discrimination.
Toronto - As the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “OHRC”) prepares to release its Policy and Guidelines on Racism and Racial Discrimination later this month, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton noted that allegations raised in recent cases dealt with by the OHRC and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “HRTO”) are a troubling reminder that racism and racial discrimination are still a significant problem in this province.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCU), and other partners, released a draft proposal this week calling for the establishment of a Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism, and is asking human rights commissions from across Canada to promote the proposal in their regions.
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today endorsed the government’s introduction of legislation as a positive move towards ending mandatory retirement for older Ontario workers. "I am very pleased that the government has taken this step to respect the rights of older workers by introducing legislation that will enable individuals to decide for themselves when they wish to retire from the workplace rather than having this decision made for them by their employers," stated Mr. Norton.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission began a consultation on human rights and family status today with the release of a Discussion Paper called, Human Rights and the Family in Ontario.
Toronto - The Canadian Commission for UNESCO and Ontario’s Human Rights Commission announced today that they and other partners are setting up a working group of government and non-government organizations to develop and promote a proposal to Call for a Canadian Coalition of Cities Against Racism. Other partners include the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the Metropolis Project.
Toronto - As Black History month comes to a close, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today remarked on a recent Ontario court decision that serves as an important reminder that racial discrimination is still a major concern in our society.
Toronto - I welcome this opportunity to provide comments on Bill 118, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In the spring of last year, the Ontario Human Rights Commission ("the Commission") provided a written submission to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration’s public consultation on strengthening the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. As I believe that the comments of the Commission at that time remain relevant in considering Bill 118, I take this opportunity to provide it to you for your review. Having reviewed Bill 118, there are some points from this submission to which I would like to particularly draw your attention, as I believe they may be helpful to you.
Toronto - The home buyer, who uses a wheelchair, was purchasing a new home from the builder, but required a number of alterations to the standard design in order to make the premises accessible. There was an issue as to whether the builder’s policies and procedures appropriately considered accessibility changes upfront either in the contract of purchase and sale, or in the floor plan drawings. This would mean that a home buyer would have to first purchase the standard home, and then meet with a design consultant to discuss potential alterations, with no assurances that the home could be made accessible. The complaint was neither investigated nor referred to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal for a hearing. Rather, Mattamy Homes decided to resolve the issue in a direct and positive manner.
Toronto - I am writing to express concern over recent comments attributed to the Honourable Irwin Cotler urging provinces to allow public officials who are licensed to perform marriage ceremonies to refuse to perform this service for same-sex couples. As you know, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) intervened in the Same Sex Marriage Reference before the Supreme Court of Canada to protect the right of gay and lesbian Canadians to get married. In this regard, the Commission agreed with the Attorney General of Canada’s position that requiring a religious official to perform a marriage ceremony that does not accord with his or her religious beliefs about marriage would violate section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”).
Toronto - In a statement marking the first anniversary of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s report, Paying the Price: The Human Cost of Racial Profiling, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton noted that a lot of work still needs to be done to address racial profiling.
Toronto - Following through on its commitment to help educational institutions, teachers, and parents better understand the duty to accommodate students with disabilities in Ontario’s schools, colleges and universities, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton announced the release of Guidelines on Accessible Education today.
Toronto - A settlement has been reached between two Complainants with disabilities, the Ministry of Transportation, the City of Hamilton, and the Disabled and Aged Regional Transit System(“DARTS”), a transit service for persons with disabilities provided by the City of Hamilton.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today announced that another ten restaurant chains have voluntarily committed to a process that will eliminate barriers for customers with disabilities. They include: Burger King, Coffee Time Donuts, Harvey’s, Kelsey’s Neighbourhood Bar and Grill, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Montana’s Cookhouse and Milestones, Pizza Pizza, Red Lobster, Taco Bell and Timothy’s World Coffee. The Commission is still negotiating similar commitments with another eight chains.
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton of the Ontario Human Rights Commission today praised the government’s consultations on the issue of mandatory retirement. "The Ministry’s initiative is a welcome step in the right direction. Older workers should be judged on their ability to perform a job, and not have to leave their work just because they reach a certain age," stated Chief Commissioner Keith Norton.
Vaughan, Ont. - WorkGroup Designs Ltd. has acquired the exclusive right to market and sell the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s award-winning case management information software system (CMIS).
Toronto - Beginning this October 1st, the Ontario Human Rights Commission will implement a new process for self-drafting of human rights complaints. Under the old process, complainants were required to fill out a 7-page questionnaire in order to file a complaint. Close to 50% of the intake questionnaires sent to complainants were never returned. In the new self drafting process, individuals will be asked to provide the particulars of their allegations directly onto a 4-page complaint form. This new approach will speed up the processing of complaints and give individuals more control over their complaint.
Toronto - This October, the Ontario Human Rights Commission will be implementing a new process for self-drafted human rights complaints. I am taking this opportunity to explain the background for this decision, why it is being implemented and what it entails.
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today released the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Year-End Results for the 2003-2004 fiscal period.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission has asked the Toronto District School Board and Ontario’s Ministry of Education to recognize that "zero tolerance" disciplinary legislation and related school board policies may be having a discriminatory effect on racialized students and students with disabilities.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today announced that seven chains, Country Style Donuts, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Subway, Swiss Chalet and Tim Hortons have made commitments to a process that will eliminate barriers for customers with disabilities. This result was obtained after the Commission shared the results of an independent accessibility audit with the chains.
Toronto - At its meeting on January 28, 2004, the Commission decided to refer an unprecedented 121 autism-related complaints to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The complaints against various Government of Ontario ministries allege discrimination on the basis of disability in accessing services. The Commission has referred the complaints based on the restrictive eligibility criteria for funding support and long waiting lists for a government program.
Toronto - The Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario (HRPAO) and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) today announced that in partnership they have produced an all-new and updated version of the publication Human Rights at Work.
Toronto - "Racial profiling has no place in our society. We have to stop debating the issue and start acting on it," was the key message delivered today by Chief Commissioner Keith Norton at the release of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s report on the effects of racial profiling. Entitled, Paying the Price: The Human Cost of Racial Profiling, the Report is based on over 400 personal accounts of experiences with profiling that individuals shared with the Commission during the course of its Racial Profiling Inquiry held earlier this year. The Report looks at the human cost of racial profiling on individuals who have experienced it, their families and their communities and the detrimental impacts of this practice on society as a whole.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today announced that some accounts from the Commission's recent inquiry on racial profiling have been adapted for the national radio program, Sounds Like Canada and will be aired from December 1st to December 12th, 2003.
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton challenged education providers today to remove barriers that prevent students with disabilities from receiving the full benefit of their education.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today launched a public awareness campaign to counteract myths and stereotypes about older persons, in partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart and CARP, Canada’s Association for the Fifty-Plus.
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today released the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Year-end Results for the 2002-2003 fiscal period.
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton of the Ontario Human Rights Commission today praised the government's move to act on providing more flexibility and choice in the area of retirement. This is consistent with the Commission's recommendation made in June 2001 for Ontario workers aged 65 or older. "The Bill introduced by the government yesterday respecting the age of retirement is significant and a step in the right direction. For some older workers, maintaining or even obtaining employment can have profound implications on their sense of worth, their dignity and their economic security. They should be judged on their ability to perform a job, and not have to leave their work just because they reach a certain age," stated Chief Commissioner Keith Norton, adding that, "Although the Bill provides for a transition period until January 1, 2005, it does not prevent any forward-looking employer and bargaining agent from implementing the provisions before that date."
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton of the Ontario Human Rights Commission today urged tolerance and respect for Ontario’s Asian-Canadian community in light of the ongoing health emergency prompted by the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Toronto - On this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton announced that he is very satisfied with the response and the support the Commission has received for its racial profiling initiative, stating that, "I am now more convinced than ever that this was an appropriate way to deal with this issue. Since the inquiry’s launch on February 17th, 2003, the Commission has received over 800 contacts. While not all of the contacts fit the parameters of the inquiry, the feedback has exceeded our expectations in terms of both quality and quantity."
Toronto - I am writing in response to comments that have been attributed to you in the media regarding the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into the effects of racial profiling.
Toronto - Following up on a commitment made in December to take action on racial profiling, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today announced plans to hold an inquiry into this activity. "Racial profiling in any context is wrong. We are concerned about the negative impacts of this practice on individuals and entire communities," stated Mr. Norton. "To address the issue, the Commission has worked closely with community partners and this initiative is a result of that cooperative effort," he further added. Over the next two weeks, interested individuals who believe that they have been profiled are invited to talk about that experience with the Commission and relate the repercussions that the incident has had on their lives and their outlook towards society.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission will hold an inquiry into the effects of racial profiling on communities, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton announced today on the eve of International Human Rights Day. After meeting with community leaders, the Chief Commissioner noted that a measure of the human cost of profiling has been missing from the public debate. "There is a need to gauge the impact of this inappropriate practice. This is not another study on racism or an investigation of the police services, rather it is an opportunity for the Commission to look into the effects of profiling, in all its contexts, on individuals, families and communities. The inquiry will reach out to communities across the province."
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today reiterated a call for increased vigilance and the need to strike a balance between protecting human rights and maintaining public security. Reflecting on the first anniversary of the tragic events of last September 11th, Mr. Norton stated, "Although we would like to believe that tolerance has become part of our core values, regrettably, incidents of hate and discrimination towards certain community members of our society in the aftermath of last year’s events underline an ongoing need for vigilance."
Toronto - A settlement has been reached between six complainants with disabilities who use Wheel-Trans services and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today announced that the Ontario Human Rights Commission will hold public consultations this fall on human rights issues affecting persons with disabilities in Ontario's education system.
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today released the Year-end results of the Ontario Human Rights Commission for the fiscal year 2001 - 2002. "This year, we have seen tremendous challenges both globally and locally in the field of human rights," stated Mr. Norton. He added, "Since the adoption of the Human Rights Code forty years ago, Ontario has become one of the most diverse communities in the world and gained international renown as a province of tolerance. Although we would like to believe that tolerance has become part of our core values, sadly, the reactions to the tragic events of last September 11th underline the need for constant vigilance. We need to continue working hard to advance the recognition of the dignity and worth of every Ontario resident, and to accomplish our common goals, we need the Code and an effective Commission."
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today released its Policy on Discrimination against Older Persons because of Age. This document provides an in-depth look at age discrimination as it relates to present protections in the Human Rights Code. The Policy was developed to help the public and Commission staff to gain a better understanding of how the Code protects older Ontarians and to sensitize them to the issues faced by these persons. It also aims to raise awareness among service providers, employers and landlords of their obligations under the Code.
Toronto - There is a legal obligation under the Ontario Human Rights Code for equal access to public transit services without discrimination based on prohibited grounds, yet persons with disabilities, older persons and families with young children face difficulties in accessing transit on a daily basis. Human Rights and Public Transit Services in Ontario summarizes the input received from transit providers, seniors' organizations, disability consumers groups, advocacy groups and individuals during the Ontario Human Rights Commission's consultation on public transit. The report was released today at the Ontario Transportation Expo Conference and Trade Show in Toronto.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today released a report on consultations it conducted on human rights issues in insurance. In accordance with the Commission's mandate, the objective of the consultation was to promote awareness, understanding and advancement of human rights in the area of insurance and to examine alternatives to current practices by obtaining input from experts and regulators in the insurance industry as well as from consumers. Access to insurance in our society raises significant issues about distributive justice and fairness in the public sphere, issues that have received scant attention in Canada and in Ontario.
Toronto - Reacting to an implementation plan submitted by Famous Players Theatres in accordance with an earlier decision by a Board of Inquiry, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton stated, "The fact that Famous Players has decided to close the three theatres affected by the Board order well ahead of the deadlines set out by the Board, suggests that this decision is economically motivated. I am disappointed by this decision as it deprives local moviegoers from accessing services at these theatres. Clearly, the closings are based on economic reasons and not related to the decision of the Board."
Toronto - In recognition of International Human Rights Day, the Ontario Human Rights Commission is launching a series of brochures on human rights issues and releasing an updated version of its school package entitled, Teaching Human Rights in Ontario.