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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. 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.

  2. 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

  3. Commission appeals advance human rights law (fact sheet)

    June 2006 - Over the past ten years, the Commission has been involved in 72 judicial review decisions, 32 decisions on appeal at the Divisional Court, 40 decisions from the Court of Appeal, and 17 from the Supreme Court of Canada. As of March 31, 2006, the Commission was litigating 462 cases at the Tribunal, eight cases before the Divisional Court, three in the Ontario Court of Appeal, and two before the Supreme Court of Canada.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. Summary: Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board v. Fair

    On May 31, 2016, the Court of Appeal for Ontario[1] unanimously upheld decisions by the HRTO, which had found that Sharon Fair (Fair) had been subjected to employment-related discrimination by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (the School Board) and had ordered compensation for special and for general damages ($30,000) as well as an order for Fair’s reinstatement. The HRTO’s decisions had earlier been upheld by the Divisional Court.

  12. 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.

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