A few months ago, I visited Thunder Bay and had the opportunity to speak with members of the Indigenous community. Community members told me about their concerns related to policing and child welfare, trafficking of Indigenous women and girls, and everyday racism in almost every facet of their lives including employment, housing, healthcare and retail. Most strikingly, people talked about being “garbaged” – literally having garbage thrown at them while walking down the street, all because of their Indigenous ancestry. I brought these concerns to the leaders that I met later in the day, including the Mayor and police.
LONDON – On July 8, 2017, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) signed an agreement with the ultimate goal of ending anti-Indigenous discrimination in Ontario. This agreement sets the stage for future collaboration with urban Indigenous communities that is based on trust, dignity, respect, and a shared commitment to reconciliation and substantive equality.
Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission launched A bold voice, its 2016-2017 Annual Report. This report highlights the OHRC’s work and the results we are seeing. Over the past year, the OHRC has successfully put people’s human rights at the centre of public conversations and policy-making, and advanced evidence-based and practical solutions to tackle the discrimination marginalized and vulnerable people continue to face.
Human rights in Ontario
The Ontario Human Rights Code is a provincial law that gives everybody equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific social areas such as jobs, housing, services, facilities, and contracts or agreements.
The Code’s goal is to prevent discrimination and harassment because of race, sex, disability, and age, to name a few of the 17 grounds. All other Ontario laws must agree with the Code.
Not all unfair treatment and not all harassment is covered by the Code. The treatment or harassment must be based on at least one Code ground and take place within a social area to be protected. For an explanation of discrimination and harassment, see What is discrimination?
If you believe you have experienced discrimination, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre can help you determine if what you experienced is protected under the Code. If you want to take legal steps to address an incident, the deadline is generally one year from the last discriminatory event.
The Ontario Human Rights System is made up of three separate agencies:
- The Ontario Human Rights Commission (that’s us) works to promote, protect and advance human rights through research, education, targeted legal action and policy development.
- The Human Rights Legal Support Centre gives legal help to people who have experienced discrimination under the Code.
- The Human Rights Tribunal is where human rights applications are filed and decided.
Human Rights 101 will help guide you through Ontario’s Human Rights System.