In this, my final report, I am pleased to report on the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s activities for the April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005 fiscal year.
During 2004-2005, the Commission accomplished several significant achievements including key legal settlements on a variety of human rights issues. In particular, the Commission:
- conducted a Policy Dialogue as part of policy development on the ground of race;
- released guidelines on the application of the Ontario Human Rights Code related to issues of disability in the education sector;
- followed up on recommendations set out in its 2003 Disability and Education Consultation Report;
- followed up on recommendations in its Racial Profiling Report released in December 2003;
- released a report on restaurant accessibility, Dining Out Accessibly, and expanded the restaurant initiative to other chains; and,
- developed a Discussion Paper on discrimination because of family status.
This past year, the Commission opened 2,399 cases and closed 2,215 cases. The active caseload on March 31, 2005 was 2,733 cases, which represents an increase of 184 cases (or 7.3%) over last year’s caseload of 2,549 cases. The Commission also referred 150 cases to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
I am also pleased to look back and report on the Commission’s many accomplishments in all areas of its mandate over the past ten years. During this time, key reforms and corporate initiatives undertaken by the Commission have enhanced its ability to process complaints and carry out its compliance function under the Code. As well, significant initiatives in the Commission’s policy, education and legal work, and in its mediation and investigative services, have helped position Ontario as a leader in the protection and advancement of human rights.
I have had the privilege now of overseeing the work of the Commission and being associated with its truly dedicated staff for the past nine years. As I complete my term as Chief Commissioner, I wish the Commission much future success as it builds on past achievements and forges ahead in advancing human rights for all Ontarians. I feel very fortunate to have been part of an organization that continuously challenges itself to deliver more effectively on its mandate, and does so with such a high degree of commitment and professionalism.
Keith C. Norton Q.C., B.A., LL.B