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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. Paying the price: The human cost of racial profiling

    October 2003 - The Report begins with a brief explanation and definition of racial profiling. In addition, the Report explains the human cost of racial profiling on the individuals, families and communities that experience it. It details the detrimental impact that profiling is having on societal institutions such as the education system, law enforcement agencies, service providers and so forth. It also outlines the business case against profiling – in essence the economic loss sustained as a result of racial profiling.
  3. "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.
  4. Racial profiling inquiry: Objectives (fact sheet)

    December 2003 - The Commission’s racial profiling inquiry initiative was undertaken in response to community concerns about the impact of profiling on members of their respective communities. The inquiry’s main objectives were to give individuals who had been subjected to profiling an opportunity to share those experiences and to show its effects on their families and communities. In doing so, the Commission hoped to raise public awareness of the harmful effects and the social costs of racial profiling.

  5. Racial profiling inquiry: Background and process

    December 2003 - The Report wraps up the Commission’s inquiry initiative by relating what the Commission heard and providing an analysis of the effects of profiling on more than just the individuals and communities most likely to experience it. The Report also analyzes the detrimental impact that profiling is having on societal institutions such as the education system, law enforcement agencies, service providers, etc., and providers, etc., and provides recommendations for bringing an end to this practice.

  6. What is racial profiling? (fact sheet)

    2003 - For the purposes of its inquiry, the Commission’s definition for "racial profiling" is any action undertaken for reasons of safety, security or public protection, that relies on stereotypes about race, colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or place of origin, or a combination of these, rather than on a reasonable suspicion, to single out an individual for greater scrutiny or different treatment.

  7. 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.
  8. 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.

  9. 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:

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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