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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. "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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Commission appeals advance human rights law

    June 13, 2006

    Toronto - 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.

  6. 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.

  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. 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.
  9. 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.

  10. Hockey Canada’s Ontario branches take important step towards transgender inclusion

    September 7, 2016

    Toronto — Hockey Canada, through its Ontario branches, ushers in a new era of transgender inclusion in time for the 2016-2017 hockey season by posting transgender inclusive policies. This step is part of a settlement agreement between Hockey Canada, on behalf of its Ontario members, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and Jesse Thompson, a trans teenaged boy who played amateur hockey and courageously decided to take on the system.

  11. 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:

  12. 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.

  13. New documentation guidelines for accommodating students with mental health disabilities

    January 6, 2016

    Toronto - Navi Dhanota, represented by ARCH Disability Law Centre; York University and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) have worked together to develop new documentation guidelines to access academic accommodations. The change in guidelines means that students will no longer have to disclose their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) diagnosis to register for mental health accommodations and supports.

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