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Legal

The OHRC uses targeted legal action, including Public Interest Inquiries, to advance an expansive interpretation of the Code, establish important precedents that adopt OHRC policies, promote broader public change, and pursue public interest remedies. Some of our most recent case work can be found below. Each Annual Report also reviews the past year’s legal work.

The OHRC's Litigation and inquiry strategy sets out when and how the OHRC decides to conduct an inquiry or take an application to the Human Rights Tribunal or when to intervene in a legal proceeding. 

To request a Commission initiated-application, inquiry or intervention, contact legal@ohrc.on.ca

See our Litigation and Inquiry Strategy for more information about OHRC legal action.

  1. Commission intervenes in court case involving a Muslim woman's right to testify wearing her niqab (face covering)

    The central issue in this appeal is the apparent conflict between the intersecting religious and equality rights of a witness and the fair trial rights of the accused in the context of a criminal proceeding. The OHRC’s submissions set out a process, based in existing case law, to analyze and reconcile potentially competing rights. The proposed process can apply, with appropriate modifications, to any competing rights claims whether they arise under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter), human rights legislation, the common law or otherwise.

  2. Phipps v. Toronto Police Services Board

    The OHRC intervened at the Tribunal in a complaint by Ron Phipps – a case which raised some tough issues. The Tribunal ruled Phipps had been subjected to racial profiling in 2005 by a Toronto police officer. The officer stopped Phipps when he was delivering mail in an affluent Toronto neighbourhood, checked with a homeowner Phipps spoke to, trailed him and checked his identity with a White letter carrier.
  3. de Lottinville and the application of Section 45.1 of Ontario's Human Rights Code

    February 25, 2015 - In the past, people who experienced discrimination or harassment by police had to decide whether to file an officer misconduct complaint under the Police Services Act (“PSA”) or an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“HRTO”). The PSA provides a public complaints process, revised through amendments in 2009 which also established the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (“OIPRD”). If they filed both, there was a real risk that their HRTO application would be dismissed.

  4. Access to locker rooms for trans amateur hockey players: J.T. v. Hockey Canada et. al.

    Background

    This case involved a transgender boy, Jesse Thompson, who was denied access to the boys’ locker room the rest of his amateur hockey team used during the 2012-2013 hockey season. Jesse alleged that this resulted in him being ‘outed’ as trans, excluded from important team interaction and bonding, and exposed to harassment and bullying.

  5. Cole v Ontario (Health and Long-Term Care) : Challenging the funding limits to live in community settings

    Background

    The applicant, Ian Cole, is a middle-aged man with a severe intellectual disability who lives in the community. To live in the community, Mr. Cole depends on the receipt of nursing services. The primary source of funding for the nursing services is his local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). The maximum funding for nursing services is set out in a regulation made under the Home Care and Community Services Act, 1994.  At the time the application was filed, funding was available for nursing services to a maximum of four visits per day.

  6. Backgrounder - Tribunal finds Falun Gong a protected creed under Ontario's Human Rights Code

    Western scholars of religion would characterize Falun Gong as a new religious movement. The essence of Falun Gong is spiritual elevation. Falun Gong practitioners believe in the existence of gods and divine beings in the cosmos. Its leader, Li Hongzhi, has written a form of ‘scripture.‘ His message is profoundly moral.

  7. Voices from the community

    [The] public school refused to acknowledge or accept the dyslexia diagnosis until she was seven. … Without timely remediation, my daughter is barely able to read and write in English as she enters Grade 3. … In the meantime, her mental health is strained because she is keenly aware of her learning differences and extremely frustrated by the fact that she struggles to read and write. … Last year she asked Santa Claus for “the power to read” – she’s still wondering if she’ll ever get her wish.

    • Parent of 8-year-old

     

  8. OHRC initiatives related to disability and education 1999 – 2019

    2019

    Letter to Minister of Education re: Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) – school board policies on service animals

    Letter

    The OHRC responded to the Ministry of Education’s consultation on its draft PPM for school board policies on service animals in schools. The OHRC recommended revisions such as recognizing that the duty to accommodate disability also includes individual needs not related to learning needs.

  9. Right to Read : Ontario Human Rights Commission Inquiry into human rights issues that affect students with reading disabilities in Ontario’s public education system : Terms of reference

    Reading is a fundamental skill that students must have to navigate their school experience and their later lives. Our public schools should be able to teach students
    to read. Yet, this may not be the reality for students with reading disabilities.

  10. Voices from community partners

    The Learning Disabilities Associations (LDAs) across Canada started from the Toronto office in 1963 and today is overseen coast-to-coast by the LDA of Canada. The LDAC led the efforts involving the Geoffrey Moore case where the Supreme Court of Canada examined the rights to education and considered the “ramp” required for those with Learning Disabilities to have the access they deserve. Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (LDAO) is committed to students with Learning Disabilities being given the best possible opportunities to succeed in Ontario schools and therefore looks forward t

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