OHRC policies are widely used by people responsible for applying the Code, such as lawyers, unions and human resource managers. They are useful because they respond to day-to-day human rights issues. They are also an important resource for individuals and their counsel seeking to enforce their rights under the Code. The OHRC applies its policies in all our work - education, outreach and partnership initiatives, public inquiries and legal interventions.
As part of its transition to a new mandate, the OHRC reviewed its entire library of policies. In an exercise completed in December 2009, staff reviewed the policies for inconsistencies with the new Code, and revised them to make sure they will continue to play a valuable role in Ontario’s human rights system.
One example of the type of changes made is a revised procedure for making a human rights complaint (now called an application). In the past, these were made to the OHRC, and the policies have been updated to show that people now go directly to the Tribunal or through the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.
OHRC policies and guidelines are important because they set standards for how individuals, employers, housing providers, service providers and policy makers should act to comply with the Code. While they are not binding on the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal or on courts, they are given great deference, and are often applied to the facts of the case before the court or tribunal, and are quoted in their decisions. If a party asks the Tribunal to consider a policy, it must do so.
The OHRC continues to refine and update its policies to reflect new and emerging issues and legal decisions, and advances in human rights. The most recent versions are always available on our website. You will also find many plain language brochures, interactive e-learning modules and other tools to help apply the policies to everyday life.