Employers, housing providers, educators and other responsible parties covered by the Code have the ultimate responsibility for maintaining an inclusive environment that is free from discrimination and harassment, and where everyone’s human rights are respected. Organizations and institutions operating in Ontario have a legal duty to take steps to prevent and respond to situations involving competing rights.
Goods, services and facilities
You have the right to be free from discrimination when you receive goods or services, or use facilities. For example, this right applies to:
- stores, restaurants and bars
- hospitals and health services
- schools, universities and colleges
- public places, amenities and utilities such as recreation centres, public washrooms, malls and parks
- services and programs provided by municipal and provincial governments, including social assistance and benefits, and public transit
- services provided by insurance companies
- classified advertisement space in a newspaper.
Relevant policies and guides:
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.
Education is a “service” under the Code
The Code protects people in the social area of goods, services and facilities. Services are broadly defined, but include health care (including mental health care), the criminal justice and the court system (for example police), government services (including social assistance), education, child welfare, insurance, shops and restaurants. Many issues may exist for people with mental health disabilities and addictions when they seek services.
Mount Sinai Hospital (MSH) is a large patient care, teaching and research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto. Since 2007, Media Corp Inc. has named MSH one of Greater Toronto’s Top Employers. MSH seeks to be a national leader in all of its diversity and human rights programs, and to have a staff team that reflects the diverse patients they serve.
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.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario Ministry of Education have finalized a settlement of a human rights complaint initiated by the Commission against the Ministry and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) in July 2005. A settlement was reached separately with the TDSB in November 2005.
Dress codes, work schedules or shift work sometimes adversely affect individuals because of religious requirements. When this happens, the obligation to accommodate the individual, based on the needs of the group, is triggered under the Code.
Discrimination or unequal treatment may be legally defensible in certain circumstances.
1. Participating in special interest organizations
First, s. 18 of the Code provides that religious, philanthropic, educational, fraternal or social institutions that are primarily engaged in serving the interests of persons who are identified by their creed, may give priority to persons of the same creed with regard to participation or membership.
“Basic health care is a foundation in our society and differences are never justifiable. Seniors’ needs are real and they surely deserve easy access to basic health care in the same manner afforded to other groups in Ontario.”