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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. 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.

  2. MacConnell v. Ontario (Community and Social Services) Special Diets case – judicial review allowed

    September 2014 - The Divisional Court has allowed an application for judicial review, heard on September 16, brought by the applicants and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), of a decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) denying special diet benefits to Joanne MacConnell.

  3. Human rights obligations related to pregnancy and breastfeeding: Case law review

    October 2014 - This case law review looks at important developments in the law dealing with discrimination based on pregnancy and breastfeeding between 2008 and January 2014.[1] The discussion of the law in Ontario is intended as a resource, to be read along with the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on Preventing Discrimination because of Pregnancy and Breastfeeding (the Policy)[2], about the rights of women[3] who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, who have had a baby or who are breastfeeding. However, it is not legal advice.

  4. 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.

  5. In the courts: family status and sex discrimination case

    From: Annual Report 2011-2012 - Human rights: the next generation

    The OHRC intervened at the Federal Court in Seeley v. CN, a judicial review of a decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. The Tribunal had found that CN discriminated against Ms. Seeley by requiring her to relocate without considering her obligations as a parent. The Court has not yet released its decision.

  6. Creed case law review

    May 2012 - What follows is a discussion of significant legal decisions dealing with religious and creed rights in Canada. The focus is on decisions made since the Commission issued its 1996 Policy on Creed and the Accommodation of religious observances. It does not review every decision, but those that may be important from a human rights perspective. In addition to a description of the case law, trends and areas where it is anticipated the case law will continue to evolve or be clarified are identified. The review will form the basis for further research and dialogue concerning the law in Canada as it relates to this significant area of human rights.

  7. Appendix F: Table of cases

    From: Policy on competing human rights

    Adler v. Ontario, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 609

    Alberta v. Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony, 2009 SCC 37

    Assn. of Justices of the Peace of Ontario v. Ontario (Attorney General) (2008), 92 O.R. (3d) 16

    B. (R.) v. Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto, [1995] 1 S.C.R. 315

    Bothwell v. Ontario (Minister of Transportation), 2005 CanLII 1066 (ON S.C.D.C.)

    Bou Malhab v. Diffusion Métromédia CMR Inc., [2011] 1 S.C.R. 214

  8. Rental housing licensing Inquiries

     

    Two public interest inquiries by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) will explore if new rental housing licensing bylaws in North Bay and Waterloo create discriminatory barriers to rental housing. The inquiries are being conducted under the OHRC’s Human Rights Code mandate to promote, advance and protect human rights in Ontario.

  9. Ontario Human Rights Commission Submission regarding Interim Reports of the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario

    March 2012 - The OHRC will focus its comments on the issues and barriers identified in the CRSAO’s reports that connect to the OHRC’s current priority initiatives dealing with racism experienced by Aboriginal people and other groups as well as disability, especially mental health discrimination.

  10. Ontario Human Rights Commission v. Christian Horizons

    On May 14, 2010, Ontario’s Divisional Court issued a decision on a case called Ontario Human Rights Commission v. Christian Horizons. The Divisional Court’s ruling was on the appeal of a 2008 decision made by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. In that decision, the Tribunal found that Christian Horizons infringed the rights of an employee who was in a same sex relationship.
  11. The shadow of the law: Surveying the case law dealing with competing rights claims

    This document explains the legal backdrop for the Commission’s Policy Framework. It is divided into two main sections. The first provides an overview and summary of key legal principles from some significant legal decisions. This section aims to help readers understand the relevant legal background when seeking to conciliate or otherwise reconcile competing rights claims. The second part of the document surveys the leading cases that deal with competing rights. It also provides examples of situations where the leading cases, and the key principles from them, have been applied by courts and tribunals. It is divided by the types of rights conflicts that most commonly arise. The cases are discussed in some detail as the specific factual context of each case is so important to the rights reconciliation process.

  12. Setting new standards for defining discrimination

    From: Annual Report 2010-2011: Looking back, moving forward

    Preventing discrimination is at the heart of the Ontario Human Rights Code. The courts and tribunals continue to clarify what this means. One example is a landmark ruling in September 2010.

    In Tranchemontagne v. the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that two alcoholics were entitled to disability benefits. This case looked at what constituted discrimination in human rights law.

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