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Bringing human rights closer to home

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In today’s society, people are still denied housing because of the colour of their skin, or their country of origin, or their age, or many of the other grounds of Ontario’s Human Rights Code – the Code. Some people with mental health disabilities are evicted because of behaviour that is beyond their control, without landlords even attempting to accommodate them. Some housing providers don’t want to rent to seniors because they think they will need to pay money to accommodate them as they age or acquire disabilities. These are just a few of the ways that people across Ontario face discrimination in housing every day.

Many groups have worked for years to eliminate this discrimination, and the OHRC is offering them a new tool to advance human rights in housing. In October 2009, we released our Policy on Human Rights and Rental Housing, Canada’s first human rights-based look at how to find and eliminate barriers to housing.

The policy follows research and consultation with tenants, housing providers, decision-makers and other partners. It provides tools, practical scenarios and information to apply to everyday situations, so that human rights problems can be eliminated quickly or prevented from happening in the first place.

Under Ontario’s Human Rights Code, tenants and housing providers have rights and obligations, and this policy provides the details on what these rights and obligations are and how to use them.

Reducing discrimination in housing is a strategic priority for the OHRC. This policy is part of a wider effort to break down barriers to fair rental housing. Other recent work includes:

  • Building partnerships with municipalities, tenant groups, advocates and housing providers to do public education
  • Working with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on legislative and regulatory issues to improve human rights in housing
  • Intervening in a case before the Ontario Municipal Board
  • Meeting with and learning from individuals and groups at events across Ontario
  • Working with municipalities to amend zoning by-laws that discriminate
  • Working with college communities to address student housing issues.

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