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Letter regarding the inquest in the death of Andrew Loku

May 5, 2016

I write today to provide you with the views of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) as to the steps you can take to ensure that the announced Inquest into the death of Andrew Loku leads to recommendations that will prevent similar deaths in the future.

110 days short of equality for working women

April 19, 2016

Women make up half of Ontario’s workforce. But whether it’s on the factory floor or in the boardroom, the disturbing reality is that women continue to earn less than men. Racialized women, young women, old women, single mothers, women who care for aging parents, religious women, and women with disabilities or addictions suffer an even greater wage gap.

OHRC calls for reforms to immigrant detention system

April 11, 2016

Dear Minister Naqvi, I am writing today on behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), to express our concern about detention of non-citizens in Ontario jails under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (immigration detainees). 

As you know, in my previous capacity as Executive Director of the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, I was the editor of a 2015 report on immigration detention (http://ihrp.law.utoronto.ca/We_Have_No_Rights).

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:

  1. 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.
  2. The Human Rights Legal Support Centre gives legal help to people who have experienced discrimination under the Code.
  3. 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.