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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. Consultation report: Human rights and public transit services in Ontario

    March 2002 - This Report is based on the many and varying viewpoints presented to the OHRC in the course of its public consultation on accessible public transportation in Ontario. Conventional and paratransit systems are examined in depth, in terms of the human rights principles that apply, the issues raised, and the impact on older persons, persons with disabilities, and families with young children. Three key issues raised throughout the consultation were funding, standards, and roles and responsibilities. These issues are examined in depth.
  2. "Next Stop, Accessibility" Report on the public transit stop announcements in Ontario

    April 2008 - In October 2007, in response to recent developments and ongoing concerns in the area of transit accessibility, the Commission began an inquiry into whether transit providers across the province announce transit stops. Through this initiative, the Commission hoped to improve awareness in the transit sector of the importance of announcing all stops for the purposes of inclusion and accessibility, and to secure commitments toward quickly developing and implementing stop announcement plans.
  3. 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.

  4. 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.
  5. Human Rights settlement reached with Ministry of Education on Safe Schools - Terms of settlement

    WHEREAS on July 7, 2005, the OHRC initiated a complaint, number GKEA-6DUH6W, pursuant to subsection 32(2) of the Human Rights Code in the public interest and on behalf of racialized students and students with disabilities alleging that the application of the safe schools provisions of the Education Act and the Ministry’s and school boards’ policies on discipline are having a disproportionate impact on racial minority students and students with disabilities. NOW THEREFORE, the Parties agree to settle these matters as follows:

  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. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  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.

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