Taking the pulse: Peoples’ opinions on human rights in Ontario

Survey overview 

Taking the pulse

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) undertook a public opinion survey to gauge and give voice to people’s attitudes – both positive and negative – about human rights in Ontario.

The survey asked respondents about their human rights awareness, attitudes towards groups, and about personal experiences of discrimination. Some of the questions were purposefully polarizing to most accurately assess both how people feel about human rights and the extent of prejudice towards groups who experience discrimination. The questions were not intended to measure attitudes about specific public policies and the responses should not be read in this manner.

A polling firm conducted the online survey early in 2017 using a sample of 1,501 people age 18 and older. The sample is generally proportionate to Ontario’s actual population in terms of gender, age groups, ethnic and racial identities, disability status, foreign-born populations, education and income levels, and regional distribution. For example, the survey sample reflects Ontario’s ethnic and racial diversity insofar as 76% of respondents identified as British/European and 24% of respondents identified as having non-European origins.

Terms used in the online survey and report to describe a group’s ethnic, racial or visible minority status or other identity, are in accordance with Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey.

The full dataset for the OHRC survey is available online.

Survey highlights

The survey provides a useful indicator of the state of human rights in Ontario today. To that end, several themes and trends – both positive and negative – emerged from the survey.

Discrimination remains a problem in Ontario.

  • Two-thirds (66%) of respondents think discrimination is at least somewhat of problem in Ontario.

Discrimination based on race, Indigenous ancestry and poverty is of particular concern.

  • A majority (63%) believe race or colour to be one of the most common reasons for discrimination in Ontario, followed by sexual orientation (34%), disability (25%) and creed or religion (24%).
  • A higher proportion of Indigenous respondents (70% vs. 49% of all respondents) say they experienced some form of discrimination in the past five years.
  • Respondents overall are least positive towards people in receipt of public assistance compared to other groups. Only 39% say they feel at least somewhat positive towards this group.

Discrimination happens mostly at work, or in public places outside the scope of the Human Rights Code.

  • 45% of respondents who experienced discrimination or harassment in the past five years say it happened at work, 42% say it happened in a public place (i.e. outside the jurisdiction of the Code), 16% in a shop or restaurant, and 12% at school.

Negative stereotypes persist about transgender people, refugees, Muslim and Arab people, other racialized groups, Indigenous peoples, homeless people and people in receipt of social assistance.

  • Fewer than half of respondents were positive towards transgender people (46%), refugees (46%), Muslim (45%) or Arab people (44%)
  • Respondents were least positive towards people receiving social assistance (39%).
  • A large minority agree with the negative (likely based on stereotype) view that police are at least sometimes justified in profiling or targeting specific groups including: Muslims (44%), Arab people (42%), young people (41%), Black/African Canadians (40%), South Asians (39%), homeless people (39%), people with mental health disabilities or addictions (39%), and Indigenous peoples (37%).

A lack of understanding of human rights and harmful negative stereotypes may underlie negative attitudes towards Indigenous peoples, people receiving social assistance and other groups.

  • Only (55%) of respondents report they have at least some familiarity with Ontario’s Human Rights Code, while 48% report some familiarity with the OHRC.
  • Despite both the provincial and federal governments’ focus on reconciliation, only 35% of respondents are at least somewhat familiar with Indigenous rights, and 34% with the impact of colonialism on Indigenous peoples.
  • 49% hold the negative view that Indigenous people receive too many government benefits. This view is likely based on stereotypes about Indigenous peoples.
  • 62% hold the negative view that it is understandable for a property owner or apartment manager to be concerned about renting to people on social assistance. Again, this view is likely based on stereotypes about people on social assistance.

On a positive note, there is broad support for further accommodating the needs of people with mental health disabilities and addictions, caregivers, transgender students and people with diverse religions.

  • Three in five respondents (60%) say we don’t do enough to support people with mental health disabilities and addictions.
  • Nine in ten (90%) support rearranging work schedules to allow parents to pick up a child.
  • A majority also support allowing transgender students to use washrooms based on their lived identity (73%) or providing a prayer space for students (71%).

Discrimination remains grossly underreported.

  • Almost half (48%) of respondents who experienced discrimination kept it to themselves.
  • Only 14% say they complained to someone in the organization where it happened.

Human rights protections are in place, but there is room for improvement.

  • Three quarters (75%) of respondents think that human rights are at least somewhat well protected in Ontario when discrimination happens. The balance (25%) think they are not very well protected or protected at all

Education is vital to advancing human rights.

  • A vast majority (89%) agree that students should learn more about human rights in school.

Why a public opinion survey?

In December 2016, the OHRC launched its 2017-22 Strategic Plan. This plan includes a commitment to monitor and report on the state of human rights in Ontario using data and other evidence-informed approaches. As part of this commitment, the OHRC commissioned a public opinion survey about human rights in Ontario. The survey was conducted in January/February 2017.

The survey questions cover a broad range of the prohibited grounds of discrimination in employment, housing and services under Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The survey deals with many issues, and devotes particular attention to the four areas of focus in the OHRC’s Strategic Plan: Indigenous reconciliation, the criminal justice system, poverty and education.

The OHRC commissioned the survey to gain a better understanding of how different people and groups perceive and experience human rights in Ontario. The survey was designed to meet several goals:

  • Creating a tool and baseline dataset to periodically measure and report on the state of human rights in our province
  • Gauging how people honestly feel about pressing human rights issues
  • Informing OHRC priorities and initiatives
  • Advancing public awareness and discourse
  • Providing data for independent research.

The OHRC’s mission is to promote and enforce human rights, to engage in relationships that embody the principles of dignity and respect, and to create a culture of human rights compliance and accountability. Periodically taking the public’s pulse will help the OHRC succeed in this mission. Public opinion surveys can be important tools in gauging this pulse.

Activity Type: 

Findings

Respondents answered questions about their awareness of human rights, attitudes towards various groups in Ontario, and their personal experience with discrimination. Appendix A outlines the survey methodology.

The questions and responses are summarized and organized to reflect the four focus areas in the OHRC’s Strategic Plan (Indigenous reconciliation, the criminal justice system, poverty and education). Endnotes show the cross-tabulation data tables, with links to the full survey data file on the OHRC’s website. Appendix B includes the complete survey questionnaire.

Human rights awareness

Is discrimination, including harassment, a problem in Ontario?[1]

Two-thirds (66%) of respondents to the survey think discrimination is at least somewhat of a problem in Ontario. Very few (4%) think it is not a problem at all. Responses were similar for people across the province, and among many population subgroups.

Overall, 12% of respondents think that discrimination and harassment is a major problem. Thinking it is a major problem is higher among people from the following respondent groups:

  • Age 45 to 59 (17%)
  • City of Toronto (17%) and Northern Ontario (18%)
  • Household incomes under $40,000 (17%)
  • Unemployed and/or receiving disability assistance (17%)
  • Respondents who indicate they personally experienced discrimination in the past five years (17%).

Across different groups, a higher percentage of Black respondents think that discrimination is a major problem (32%), followed by Indigenous respondents (24%), respondents who identify as LGBTQ[2] (23%), respondents with disabilities (17%) and respondents of non-European origins (16%).

Table 1: Extent that respondents think discrimination is a problem in Ontario
  A major problem

Somewhat
of a problem

Not much
of a problem
Not a problem at all
Total 12% 54% 30% 4%
British/European 10% 55% 30% 4%
Black 32% 54% 14% 0%
Indigenous 24% 48% 25% 4%
All non-European 16% 53% 28% 3%

What do you think are the most common reasons for discrimination?[3]

When asked to pick the three most common reasons for discrimination or harassment, a majority of respondents (63%) picked race or colour as the most common reason. This is much higher than the next most mentioned reason, sexual orientation (34%).

Graph 1: Most common reasons for discrimination or harassment in Ontario

This bar graph lists the percentages of respondents who cited various reasons for discrimination. Race or colour: 63%; Sexual orientation: 34%; Disability: 25%; Creed or religion: 24%; Sex: 23%; Being transgender: 21%; Being Indigenous or Aboriginal: 19%; Ancestry of ethnic origin: 19%; Age: 17%; Place of origin: 15%; Receipt of social assistance: 10%; Citizenship status: 6%; Family status: 3%; Marital status: 2%; Pregnancy: 1%; Other: 3%.

Higher percentages of the following respondent groups also listed race and colour as a main reason:Race or colour was the top reason across Ontario and in almost all population subgroups. This response was higher among respondents in the 905-area (72%) and the City of Toronto (70%), than other regions (46% to 58%), and was also highest for respondents with a bachelor’s degree (70%).

  • South Asian (91%)
  • Chinese and South East Asian (78%)
  • Black (77%)
  • Identifying as from a racialized group (75%)
  • Born outside of Canada (72%).

While 19% of all respondents chose being Indigenous as one of the most common reasons for discrimination in Ontario, 44% of respondents living in Northern Ontario hold this view.

A higher proportion (40%) of younger respondents (age 18 to 29), respondents identifying as LGBTQ (57%), and respondents living in Northern Ontario (44%) think sexual orientation is a main reason people experience discrimination in Ontario.

A higher proportion of women (25% vs. 16% of men), younger respondents (26% aged 18 – 29), LGBTQ respondents (30%) and people with disabilities (28%) listed being transgender as a main reason for discrimination.

A higher percentage of respondents living with a disability (40%) listed disability as a reason for discrimination, compared to all respondents (25%). Creed or religion were cited more often by Muslim (64%), Jewish (32%) and non-Christian respondents (37%), compared to 24% of Christian respondents.

How well are human rights protected in Ontario?[4]

Six out of ten (61%) respondents think that human rights are somewhat well protected, while only one in seven (15%) think they are very well protected.

A minority (25%) of respondents think that human rights are not very well or at all protected. The percentages are higher among women versus men respondents (28% vs. 22%), respondents who are unemployed and/or receiving disability assistance (34%) and respondents who have experienced discrimination in the past five years (35%).


Table 2: Impression of protection of human rights in Ontario by personal experience of discrimination
  Very well protected Somewhat well protected Not very well protected Not protected
at all
Total 15% 61% 23% 2%
Experienced discrimination, last 5 years (N=725) 12% 57% 27% 3%
Experienced discrimination, not in last 5 years (N=353) 15% 64% 21% 0%
Never experienced discrimination (N=423) 18% 64% 17% 1%

Are you familiar with Ontario’s human rights system?

Two-thirds (66%) of respondents believe they know something about human rights protections and obligations.[5] Smaller numbers, however, say they have at least some familiarity with Ontario’s human rights laws and system:[6]

  • Human Rights Code – 55%
  • Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) – 48%
  • Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) – 36%
  • Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) – 25%.

Familiarity with Ontario’s human rights system is similar across the province and many subgroups, with some exceptions:

  • Awareness of the Code, the OHRC and the HRTO is linked to higher levels of education and household income
     
  • Respondents who have personally experienced discrimination in the past five years, or who report being very informed about human rights protections and obligations, report higher levels of being at least somewhat familiar with the Code and the three agencies
     
  • Respondents who feel discrimination is a major problem in the province are more likely than others to be aware of the Code, the HRTO and the HRLSC
     
  • Black respondents are more likely to be aware of the Code and the three agencies than respondents overall, whereas British/European, Chinese/South East Asian or Latin American respondents are less likely to have awareness about human rights laws and agencies.

Table 3: Very/somewhat familiar with human rights Code and agencies by ethnicity
  Total Indigenous British/
European
Chinese/
South East Asian
South Asian Black Latin American Arab/
West Asian
All non-European
Base – n= 1501 59 1162 161 63 59 21 20 327
Ontario Human Rights Code 55% 67% 55% 47% 62% 65% 40% 56% 53%
Ontario Human Rights Commission 48% 53% 48% 35% 57% 65% 31% 53% 46%
Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario 36% 44% 36% 29% 40% 57% 12% 38% 37%
Human Rights Legal Support Centre 25% 47% 24% 23% 42% 40% 19% 34% 31%
None of the above 33% 19% 33% 43% 23% 21% 46% 29% 34%

A minority of respondents (one in five) agree that discrimination is no longer a major issue, so we don’t need an OHRC, HRLSC and HRTO.[7]

A strong majority of respondents in all subgroups agree that students should learn more about human rights and responsibilities in school (45% strongly agree, 89% agree overall).[8]

Attitudes about groups and accommodations[9]

How accepting would you say Ontarians generally are towards people from a variety of cultural backgrounds?[10]

A majority (56%) of respondents feel people in Ontario are generally “as accepting as they should be” towards people from a variety of cultural backgrounds, including immigrants from other countries. Three in ten think people are not tolerant enough, and one in seven (14%) think there is too much tolerance.

How often do you personally have any contact or interact with certain groups of people?[11]

Respondents are most likely to often encounter people of different ethnic origins or religions or racialized groups, and least likely to have contact with refugees or transgender people:

  • Over half of respondents have contact with most groups at least sometimes, except with refugees (39%) and transgender people (34%)
     
  • Over half say they have frequent contact with people whose ethnic origin is different than theirs, and roughly half often have contact with people with a different creed or religion, or from a racialized group
     
  • Fewer than one in 10 report frequent contact with refugees or people who identify as transgender.
Table 4: Frequency of contact with specific groups
  Frequently Sometimes Rarely Never
People with a different
ethnic origin than yours
54% 36% 9% 1%
People with a different creed
or religion than yours
52% 37% 9% 2%
People of colour/visible minorities 49% 38% 12% 2%
Asian people 41% 42% 15% 2%
Black, African or
Afro Caribbean people
38% 44% 16% 2%
Immigrants 37% 41% 19% 4%
Lesbian, gay, or
bisexual people
29% 42% 24% 4%
Muslim people 27% 40% 26% 7%
Physical or intellectual,
cognitive or learning disabilities
25% 46% 26% 3%
People with mental health disabilities
or addictions
25% 40% 30% 4%
Arab people 21% 41% 31% 7%
People on social assistance 20% 41% 32% 7%
Indigenous or Aboriginal people 17% 38% 36% 8%
Refugees 9% 30% 46% 15%
Transgender people 8% 26% 45% 21%

Frequency of contact with specific groups is linked to a range of factors, including geographic location, social and economic status, and ethnicity.

Having at least some contact with most groups is higher for respondents who live in the City of Toronto and the 905-area. Respondents in northern Ontario report higher contact with people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (81% vs. 71% overall); people with physical, intellectual, cognitive or learning disabilities (84% vs. 71%); and Indigenous peoples (83% vs. 56%).

In general, respondents’ contact with most groups is fairly similar by gender with some exceptions:

  • Women are more likely than men to report contact with people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (76% vs. 65%), people with physical, intellectual, cognitive or learning disabilities (73% vs. 68%) or mental health disabilities (70% vs. 61%), and people receiving social assistance (64% vs. 58%)
     
  • Men are more likely than women to report contact with Asian people (87% vs. 80%) and immigrants (80% vs. 75%).

Being in the workplace or school can also increase opportunities for respondent groups to have contact with people from diverse backgrounds:

  • People with a college or higher education are generally more likely to report contact with diverse people at higher rates than people with a high school education or less
     
  • However, persons with lower levels of education are more likely to report contact with people with mental health disabilities or addictions, Indigenous peoples, and people receiving social assistance
     
  • Students are among the most likely to have contact at least sometimes with many ethnic groups, racialized groups, people with different religions, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender
     
  • People aged 60 and over, and people who are not currently in the workforce or retired are generally less likely to report contact with various groups.

How positive or negative are you towards specific groups in our society?[12]

Majorities of respondents are at least somewhat positive about 10 of the 15 groups identified in the survey,[13] with the highest levels of positive feelings for people with physical or cognitive disabilities (64% very or somewhat positive), Asian people (62% positive), people of different ethnic origins (62%), and racialized groups (61%).

Fewer than half of the respondents are positive about the five other groups: transgender people (46%), refugees (46%), Muslim (45%) or Arab people (44%), and people receiving social assistance (39%).

Respondents who are not positive are most likely to say they are neutral. Around one in five each expresses negative feelings toward Muslims, people receiving social assistance, refugees and Arab people.

Table 5: Personal feeling toward specific groups
  Very positive Somewhat positive Neutral Somewhat negative Very negative
People with physical /intellectual/
cognitive /learning disabilities
37% 27% 31% 3% 1%
People of colour / racialized groups 34% 27% 34% 4% 1%
People with a different ethnic origin than yours 33% 29% 35% 3% 0%
Asian people 33% 29% 32% 5% 1%
Black, African or Afro Caribbean people 32% 27% 35% 5% 1%
Lesbian, gay, or bisexual people 32% 24% 36% 7% 2%
People with a different creed
or religion than yours
30% 27% 38% 4% 1%
Indigenous people 30% 27% 34% 7% 1%
Immigrants 27% 28% 33% 11% 2%
People with mental health disabilities
or addictions
27% 29% 36% 7% 1%
Transgender people 25% 21% 41% 10% 3%
Muslim people 22% 22% 35% 15% 6%
Arab people 22% 22% 36% 15% 4%
Refugees 22% 24% 35% 15% 4%
People in receipt of social assistance 16% 23% 40% 18% 2%

In general, women are more likely than men to feel positive about many groups. Feeling positive is largely similar by age, though younger respondents are somewhat more positive about LGBT communities and refugees.

Respondents in specific equity groups are predictably positive about others in their group, and people identifying as LGBTQ or having a disability are among the most positive toward other groups.

Respondents who report experiencing discrimination in the past five years are more likely to express a positive view toward most of the listed groups, with the exception of immigrants. People who have never experienced discrimination are the least likely to be positive.

The findings indicate having a less positive impression of certain groups may be linked to lack of frequent contact. Respondents have less frequent contact with and less positive feelings towards, transgender people, Arab people, Muslim people, refugees and people receiving social assistance. At the same time, respondents do not encounter often but have a very positive impression of people with physical, intellectual or cognitive/learning disabilities.

Do you agree with the statement that “immigrants should adapt to the laws and norms of our society”?[14]

A majority of respondents agree with the statement that immigrants should adapt to our laws and norms (53% strongly agree, 90% agree overall).

Agreement with this statement is generally high across the province and all subgroups, but is somewhat higher among these respondent groups:

  • People of Indigenous (95%) or British/European origins (92%)
  • Mainstream Protestants (94%) and Jewish people (98%)
  • Have not personally experienced discrimination recently or at all (94%)
  • Men (93% vs. 88% of women)
  • Do not think discrimination is much of a problem in Ontario (93%).

This view increases as age increases and is highest among respondents age 60 and over (98%).

Do you agree with the statement that “it is normal for Ontario to evolve and reflect or adapt to society’s changing cultural diversity”?[15]

Four out of every five respondents (79%) agree to some extent with the statement that it is normal for Ontario to evolve and reflect or adapt to the changing cultural diversity of our society.

Agreeing with this statement is somewhat higher among respondents in Toronto (84%) and younger residents (86% age 18 to 29) and students. Agreement is linked to higher levels of education, and being a member of a racialized group or of non-European origin.

Do you agree with the statement that “we need to be cautious of people who are too open in showing their religious beliefs”?[16]

A majority of respondents (62%) disagree with the statement that you need to be cautious of people who are too open in showing their religious beliefs while 38% agree.

The respondent groups with higher levels of agreement are:

  • Men (44% vs. 31% of women)
  • Household incomes of $40,000 to under $60,000 (43%)
  • Aged 60 and over (42%)
  • Catholic/Orthodox practitioners (40%).

Do you agree with the statement that “Ontario is changing too quickly because of ethnic communities”?[17]

Half of respondents (51%) at least somewhat agree with the statement that Ontario is changing too quickly because of ethnic communities.

Respondent groups with higher levels of agreement are:

  • High school or lower education (63%)
  • Lower household incomes (59% of people with incomes of $40,000 to under $60,000)
  • Catholic/Orthodox (59%)
  • All Christians (57%)
  • Evangelical Christians (56%)
  • Aged 45 and over (58%)
  • Living in the 905-area (57%)
  • Men (54% vs. 49% of women).

Do you agree with the statement that “we would be better off if we stopped letting in so many immigrants”?[18]

A minority of respondents (43%) agree with the statement we would be better off in Ontario if we stopped letting in so many immigrants.

At the same time, slim majorities of people with high school or lower education (55%), people staying at home out of the workforce (51%), Indigenous people (55%) agreed with the statement.

How comfortable are you when seeing people wearing religious or cultural attire?[19]

Respondents were presented with a list and asked to indicate how they feel when they see people in public expressing or wearing attire specific to their religious or cultural identity.

A majority are at least somewhat comfortable seeing people wearing each item. Comfort is highest overall for seeing someone wearing a Christian cross around their neck, or an Indigenous person who keeps their long hair in a ponytail (93% each), and nine in 10 are also at least somewhat comfortable seeing either a Jewish kippah or traditional Mennonite clothing. Four out of five express some level of comfort in seeing men with turbans or women wearing hijabs. Comfort is lowest for seeing a woman in a face-covering niqab.


Table 6: Level of comfort when seeing people wearing specific religious or cultural attire
  Very
comfortable
Somewhat
comfortable
Somewhat
uncomfortable
Very uncomfortable
Someone wearing a Christian cross
around their neck
60% 32% 6% 1%
Indigenous person with hair long in a ponytail 59% 35% 5% 1%
Man wearing a kippah (Jewish skull cap) 53% 37% 9% 1%
Traditional Mennonite clothing 53% 37% 8% 2%
Man wearing a turban 42% 39% 15% 4%
Woman wearing a hijab (head scarf) covering hair 42% 37% 15% 5%
Woman wearing a niqab or veil covering her face 24% 31% 27% 19%

Comfort with Sikh or Muslim attire is higher among younger people, students and people with higher levels of education (above a high school diploma).

While a majority remain comfortable with women wearing the niqab, a large minority are uncomfortable with it (46% uncomfortable vs. 54% comfortable). Discomfort is higher among mainstream Protestants (55%) and Jewish respondents (58%), and people who have never experienced discrimination personally (50%) or who think discrimination is not very much or at all a problem (57%). Discomfort with women wearing a niqab increases as age increases.

How do you feel about accommodating the needs of specific groups in Ontario?[20]

Three in five respondents say we are not doing enough to accommodate people with mental health disabilities or addictions, and similar numbers say this about the people responsible for caring for family members. Around half feel more could be done to accommodate people with intellectual, cognitive or learning disabilities, or people with physical disabilities. Over four in ten (44%) think more could be done to accommodate Indigenous peoples. Three in 10 (29%) think too much is being done to accommodate French speakers in Ontario.


Table 7: Extent to which enough is done to accommodate the needs of specific groups
  We don't do enough Just the right amount We do too much
People with mental health disabilities
or addictions
60% 36% 4%
People responsible for caring
for other family members
58% 38% 4%
People with intellectual, cognitive
or learning disabilities
53% 44% 4%
People with physical disabilities 51% 45% 4%
Indigenous peoples 44% 40% 16%
Transgender people 32% 54% 14%
Pregnant women 20% 73% 7%
Immigrants 17% 59% 24%
Muslim people 17% 58% 25%
People, other than Muslims,
who practice a religion
15% 71% 15%
French-speakers 11% 60% 29%

There is a notable gender difference – women are more likely than men to feel more could be done for most of the listed groups. The exception is French speakers, where women’s and men’s views are similar.

Young respondents aged 18 – 29 and students are more likely than older persons to feel most groups deserve more accommodation. However, the views of all respondents are similarly positive for accommodating family member caregivers and people with physical disabilities. Respondents aged 60 and over are also among the most likely to think the four health-related groups could use additional supports. In general, respondents with household incomes under $40,000 are the most likely to say more could be done for the four health-related groups, as well as for Indigenous, transgender and Muslim people.

Non-Christian respondents are more likely than Christian respondents to feel more accommodation should be made for Muslim people as well as for other people who practice a religion.

In general, a minority of respondents think that too much is done to accommodate special groups. This opinion is somewhat higher among people aged 45 to 59, with high school or lower education, or in the $40,000 to under $60,000 household income bracket.

Do you support specific types of accommodations?[21]

Respondents were shown a list of accommodations for specific groups. Support among respondents is highest for accommodating people with physical, mental or learning disabilities or for parents with childcare responsibilities. Strong support is lower for gender or religious/cultural accommodations, but still, seven in 10 or more support these types of accommodations at least somewhat.

Table 8: Level of support for specific accommodations
  Strongly support Somewhat support Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose
Installing small wooden curb ramp
for wheelchairs/walkers
77% 20% 3% 0%
Allowing a service animal in a buffet restaurant 61% 29% 8% 2%
Giving student with a learning disability longer
to finish an exam
60% 33% 6% 2%
Rearranging work schedules to allow parent to pick up child 52% 38% 8% 3%
Allowing someone time off from work
for addiction treatment
48% 42% 8% 3%
Allow transgender students to use
washrooms based on lived identity
37% 36% 16% 11%
Prison cafeterias accommodating
religious dietary requirements
32% 42% 15% 11%
Allowing extra time away for religious
or cultural reasons
29% 43% 18% 10%
Providing a prayer space for students 29% 42% 17% 12%

A majority of respondents (73%) at least somewhat support transgender students using washrooms that correspond with their lived gender identity. A similar majority (71%) also support providing a prayer space in schools for students.

Support for physical and learning accommodations is highest among respondents in Northern Ontario, but otherwise there are few regional differences of note.

Personal experience with discrimination

Did you experience discrimination or harassment in the past five years? [22]

Half (49%) of respondents say they have experienced at least one form of discrimination in the past five years.[23] Another quarter (23%) say they have not, and just under three in 10 (28%) have never experienced any of these forms of discrimination.

The most common types of discrimination reported are based on age (21%), gender (16%), and skin colour or race (15%). Around one in 10 reports discrimination due to ancestry/ethnicity or due to a disability.

More younger respondents and people aged 60 or over report age discrimination (33% and 23% respectively), while more women report discrimination based on sex (26% vs. 6% of men).

Graph 2: Incidence of discrimination of specific types in past five years

This bar graph lists the incidence of discrimination over the past five years based on specific factors. Your age: 21%; your sex: 16%; colour of your skin / race: 15%; your ancestry, ethnic origin or culture: 9%; your disability: 8%; your political beliefs: 6%; your creed or religion: 6%; having low employment income: 6%; your marital status: 5%; your sexual orientation: 4%; being in receipt of social assistance: 4%; your gender expression: 3%; your family status: 3%; because of pregnancy: 3%; using a food bank: 2%; having a criminal record: 2%; weight/obesity/height: 1%; being a Caucasian/white person/English: 1%; no, I have not experienced discrimination in the past five years: 23%; no, I have never been discriminated against: 28%.

Discrimination based on skin colour, race or ethnicity is highest among Black, South Asian and Chinese/South East Asian respondents. Christians and Muslims are most likely to report discrimination based on religion.

Table 9: Incidence of race and ethnicity discrimination by specific groups
  Colour of Skin / Race Ancestry / Ethnicity
Total 15% 9%
Black 70% 18%
South Asian 50% 19%
All non-European 42% 23%
Chinese / South East Asian 36% 23%
Latin American 30% 45%
Indigenous 21% 21%
Arab / West Asian 8% 21%
British / European 6% 5%

A large majority of Black respondents (70%) report experiencing discrimination based on skin colour or race in the past five years. Of respondents living in the City of Toronto, 27% say they experienced discrimination based on skin colour or race in the same period, compared to respondents across the province overall (15%).

Did you experience sexual harassment?[24]

Overall, 7% of respondents say they experienced sexual harassment in the past five years. About one in 10 women (11%) say this happened to them compared to 3% of men.

Experience of sexual harassment is higher among these respondent groups:

  • LGBTQ (24%)
  • Indigenous (20%)
  • Staying at home out of the workforce (15%)
  • Aged 18 – 29 (14%)
  • Household incomes under $40,000 (12%)
  • People with disabilities (11%)
  • Born in Canada (8%) vs. another country (4%).

Of the women who experienced any form of discrimination in the past five years, one in five (20%) say at least one incident involved sexual harassment.

Where did the discrimination or harassment occur the last time?[25]

Just under half (45%) of respondents who experienced discrimination or harassment in the past five years say it happened at work, and 42% say it happened in a public place. One in six (16%) say it was in a shop or restaurant, and 12% say it happened at school.

Discrimination at work is reported somewhat more by these respondent groups:

  • Muslim (66%)
  • Post-graduate degrees (56%)
  • Household incomes of $100,000 to under $150,000 (56%)
  • Indigenous (55%)
  • Living in south western Ontario (54%)
  • Aged 45 – 59 (52%)
  • Working full time (52%).

 

Graph 3: Location of most recent discrimination

This bar graph lists the percentages of respondents who reported most recent discrimination in various locations. At work: 45%; in a public place: 42%; in a shop/restaurant: 16%; at school: 12%; when accessing another service: 9%; when accessing housing: 5%; interacting with police/ other areas of criminal justice system: 4%; within a trade union/professional association: 4%; applying for work/a job: 3%; family/friends/other people: 2%; Online / social media: 1%; somewhere else: 1%; don’t know/not applicable: 1%.

Staying at home out of the workforce (59%)Discrimination in public places is reported more by these respondent groups:

  • Chinese/South East Asian (54%)
  • Younger (53% age 18 – 29)
  • Members of a racialized group (49%)
  • Household incomes under $40,000 (49%)
  • Living in Toronto (49%).

Although the number of respondents is very small, a high proportion (83%) of respondents who identify as transgender report discrimination in a public place.

How did you respond last time to the discrimination or harassment?[26]

About half of respondents who experienced discrimination in the past five years kept it to themselves and did not respond. Three in 10 discussed it with someone else, and two in 10 discussed the incident with the person who did it. One in seven made a complaint to someone in the organization involved. Only very a small proportion of respondents say they approached either the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (3%) or the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (2%).

Graph 4: Response to most recent discrimination

This bar graph lists respondents’ response to most recent discrimination. You kept it to yourself and did not respond: 48%; you talked about it with family/friends/someone else: 30%; you had a discussion with the person who did it: 20%; you made a complaint to someone in the organization: 14%; you asked the Human Rights Legal Support Centre of Ontario for help: 3%; you filed a complaint (called an application) with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario: 2%.

People who report being very well informed about human rights protections and obligations (27%)Only 14% of respondents say they complained to someone in the organization where the discrimination happened. This action is somewhat higher among these respondent groups:
  • Ages 45 – 59 (22%)
  • Christian (18%)
  • Full-time workers (17%).

Criminal justice

Did you think the police would be justified in profiling or targeting specific groups?[27]

When asked about police profiling in general, two-thirds (65%) of respondents agree to some extent that police must treat everyone equally regardless of group identity. One-third (35%) lean towards allowing police to profile communities that supposedly commit more crime.

The view that police should treat everyone equally is somewhat higher among these respondent groups:

  • Students (83%)
  • Muslim (77%)
  • Aged 18 – 29 (76%)
  • Household incomes under $40,000 (74%)
  • Women (70%)
  • Think discrimination is somewhat of a problem in the province (70%)
  • Practicing no religion (68%).

Overall, a minority think that police profiling is at least sometimes necessary. This response is somewhat higher among men (41%).

When asked about police profiling of specific groups, just under six in 10 respondents or more (depending on the group) feel police profiling is never or rarely justified. Around four in 10 think it is at least sometimes justified for police to profile or target certain groups: Muslims, Arab people, young people, Black/African Canadians, South Asians or people with mental health disabilities or addictions. The lowest levels of acceptance of police profiling are for people who identify a LGBTQ. Just over one-third of respondents (36%) do not indicate any group they think police would be justified in profiling or targeting.

Table 10: Opinion of police profiling of specific groups
  Never
Justified
Rarely
justified
Sometimes justified Always justified
Lesbian, gay, or bisexual people 35% 37% 23% 5%
Transgender people 34% 38% 23% 5%
Chinese people 30% 38% 27% 5%
Southeast Asian people 28% 37% 31% 5%
Latin American people 28% 38% 30% 4%
Indigenous peoples 27% 36% 32% 5%
People with mental health
disabilities and addictions
27% 35% 34% 5%
Black/African-Canadian people 27% 33% 34% 6%
Young people 26% 33% 36% 5%
South Asian people 26% 35% 33% 6%
Homeless people 24% 38% 34% 5%
Arab people 24% 34% 35% 7%
Muslim people 24% 32% 35% 9%
Of respondents who report experiencing discrimination in the past five years, 6% who are aged 18 – 29 say it happened when interacting with police or other areas of the criminal justice system.

First Nations, Métis and Inuit (Indigenous) peoples

Experience with discrimination

A higher proportion of Indigenous respondents (70% vs. 49% of all respondents) say they experienced some form of discrimination in the past five years – 21% say it’s because of their ancestry, ethnic origin or culture (vs. 9% of all respondents).[28]

Indigenous respondents are somewhat more likely than people of other origins to report discrimination because of:

  • Disability (25% vs. 8% overall)
  • Low employment income (17% vs. 6% overall)
  • Receiving social assistance (17% vs. 4% overall
  • Sexual orientation (14% vs. 4% overall).

Indigenous respondents are also more likely to say that at least one of the incidents of discrimination involved sexual harassment (29% vs. 14% of all overall).[29]

A higher proportion of Indigenous respondents also say that the last time they experienced discriminatory treatment was at work (58% vs. 45% overall).[30]

When discrimination did occur, a higher proportion of Indigenous respondents did something about it:[31]

  • 31% had a discussion with the person who did it (vs. 20% overall)
  • 19% complained to someone in the organization where it happened (vs. 14% overall)
  • 11% asked the Human Rights Legal Support Centre for help (vs. 3% overall).

Awareness about rights

One in four Indigenous respondents (24%) say discrimination and harassment is a major problem in Ontario, compared to 12% of all respondents.[32]

One in four Indigenous respondents (25%) say being in receipt of social assistance is a common reason people in Ontario experience discrimination (compared to one in 10 of all respondents).[33]

Around two-thirds (68%) of Indigenous respondents say that human rights are at least somewhat well protected in Ontario (compared to 75% of all respondents.[34]

Indigenous respondents report more familiarity with Ontario’s human rights system than respondents overall:[35]

  • 67% say they are at least somewhat familiar with the Code (vs. 55% of respondents overall)
  • 53% are at least somewhat familiar with the OHRC (vs. 48% overall)
  • 47% are at least somewhat familiar with the HRLSC (vs. 25% overall)
  • 44% are at least somewhat familiar with the HRTO (vs. 36% overall).

Respondents overall say they are familiar at least to some extent with Indigenous or Aboriginal rights (35%) and with the impact of colonialism on Indigenous peoples (34%). Indigenous respondents are more likely to be familiar with these issues (57% and 46%).

Attitudes towards Indigenous peoples

Just over half of respondents (56%) say they have at least some contact or interact with Indigenous peoples.[36]

A higher proportion of Indigenous respondents say they have contact with certain groups compared to all respondents:

  • People with physical or intellectual, cognitive or learning disabilities (86% vs. 71%)
  • People with mental health disabilities or addictions (86% vs. 66%)
  • People receiving social assistance (86% vs. 61%)
  • Lesbian, gay or bisexual people (85% vs. 71%)
  • Transgender people (52% vs. 34%).

When asked about personal feelings towards specific groups in society, 57% of all respondents say they feel at least somewhat positive towards Indigenous peoples.

When asked about seeing Indigenous people who keep their hair long in a ponytail, the vast majority of respondents (93%) say they are comfortable with this public expression of identity.[37] When asked about accommodating the needs of Indigenous peoples, 44% say that not enough is done, while only 16% say too much is done.[38]

When asked if they agreed with the negative statement that Indigenous people receive too many government benefits, 49% of respondents overall hold this view. Slim majorities of specific respondent groups also hold this view:[39]

  • Living in Northern Ontario (55%)
  • Men (54% vs. 44% of women)
  • Household incomes of $100,000 to under $150,000 (54%)
  • Christian (53%)
  • Have never experienced discrimination (53%)
  • Working full time (52%)
  • Chinese and South East Asian (51%).

The view that Indigenous people receive too many government benefits increases as age increases, and is highest among respondents aged 60 and over (55%), and among retired persons (55%).

Over one third (37%) of respondents hold the negative view that police are at least sometimes justified in targeting or profiling Indigenous people.[40]

Poverty and low income

Experience with discrimination

Overall, 4% of respondents say they experienced discrimination in the past five years as a result of being in receipt of social assistance.[41] Certain respondent groups are more likely to say this:

  • Unemployed and/or receiving disability assistance (21%)
  • Indigenous peoples (17%)
  • Identify as LGBTQ (15%)
  • People with disabilities (12%)
  • Household incomes of under $40,000 (11%)
  • High school or lower education (9%).

Similarly, these respondent groups are also more likely to say they experience discrimination because of having low employment income:

  • Unemployed and/or receive disability assistance (21%)
  • Identify as LGTBQ (15%)
  • Household income of under $40,000 (14%)
  • People with disabilities (12%)
  • Aged 18-29 (11%)
  • High school or lower education (11%).

Overall, 6% of respondents hold this view.

Two percent of respondents reported using a food bank as the reason they experienced discrimination in the past five years.

Respondents with household incomes of under $40,000 are more likely to say that at least one of the incidents of discrimination involved sexual harassment (21% vs. 14% of all respondents).[42]

A greater proportion of respondents who are unemployed and/or receiving disability assistance (9%), or with household income under $40,000 (8%), say that the last time they experienced discrimination was when interacting with police or other areas of the criminal justice system (vs. 4% of all respondents).[43]

Awareness about rights

One in six respondents (17%) with an annual household income of less than $40,000 say discrimination and harassment is a major problem in Ontario, while 12% of all respondents say this.[44]

One in seven respondents (14%) with this lower income say being in receipt of social assistance is another common reason why people in Ontario experience discrimination, while one in 10 respondents overall say this.[45]

Respondents with this lower income report less familiarity with Ontario’s human rights system than respondents overall:[46]

  • 51% say they are not very, or not at all, familiar with the Code (vs. 45% of all respondents)
  • 62% are not very, or not at all, familiar with the OHRC (vs. 51%)
  • 69% are not very, or not at all, familiar with the HRTO (vs.64%)
  • 81% are not very, or not at all, familiar with the HRLSC (vs. 75% overall).

Attitudes towards people receiving social assistance

Three in five respondents (61%) say they have at least some contact or interact with people receiving social assistance.[47]

A higher proportion of respondents with annual household incomes of less than $40,000 say they have more contact with certain groups, compared to respondents overall:

  • People receiving social assistance (72% vs. 61% overall)
  • People with mental health disabilities or addictions (72% vs. 66%)
  • Indigenous peoples (63% vs. 56%)
  • Transgender people (42% vs. 34%).

When asked about personal feelings towards specific groups in society, only 39% of respondents say they feel at least somewhat positive towards people in receipt of social assistance. Respondents are least positive towards this group compared to other groups. Positive feelings towards people in receipt of social assistance increase to 51% for students, 70% for Sikhs, and 71% for Muslims who practice their religion.[48]

Overall, 63% of respondents agree with the purposefully polarizing statement that we do enough to help people on social assistance, they could do more to help themselves if they wanted to. Majorities of many different respondent groups also hold this negative view.[49]

When asked if they agreed with the statement that it is understandable for a property owner or apartment manager to be concerned about renting to people on social assistance, 62% of all respondents hold this negative view.[50] This view is somewhat higher among these respondent groups:

  • British/European origins (76%)
  • Household incomes of $100,000 to $150,000 (68%) and $150,000 and over (65%)
  • Think that discrimination is not very much or at all a problem in Ontario (68%)
  • Have never experienced discrimination (67%)
  • Bachelor’s degree (66%)
  • College graduates (64%).

However, only around one in seven respondents (14%) strongly agree with this statement.

When asked whether police are at least sometimes justified in targeting or profiling homeless people, 38% of respondents agree with this negative view.

When asked their opinion on the statement that employers should prioritize hiring people born in Canada rather than immigrants when jobs are scarce, 50% of respondents agreed with this negative view.[51] Agreement is in the majority among these respondent groups:

  • Indigenous peoples (72%)
  • High school or lower education (63%)
  • Staying at home out of the workforce (63%)
  • Living in Northern Ontario (62%)
  • Household incomes from $60,000 to under $80,000 (60%)

When asked their opinion on the statement that some jobs are better suited to men, some to women, a considerably higher proportion of men (61% vs. 45% of women) agree with this negative view.[52] Agreement with this statement is also higher among respondents aged 60 and over (57%).


[1] Table Q.2, cross-tabulation data file.

[2] Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning

[3] Table Q.3, cross-tabulation data file.

[4] Table Q.4, cross-tabulation data file.

[5] Table Q.5, cross-tabulation data file.

[6] Table Q.6, cross-tabulation data file.

[7] Table Q.10, cross-tabulation data file.

[8] Table Q.10, cross-tabulation data file.

[9] Some of the questions are based on a series of provocative statements intent on eliciting the candid views of respondents.

[10] Table Q.7, cross-tabulation data file.

[11] Table Q.19, cross-tabulation data file.

[12] Table Q.8, cross-tabulation data file.

[13] Respondents were asked this question earlier in the survey before being asked about their frequency of contact with the same 15 specific groups.

[14] Table Q.10E, cross-tabulation data file.

[15] Table Q.10F, cross-tabulation data file.

[16] Table Q.10H, cross-tabulation data file.

[17] Table Q.10D, cross-tabulation data file.

[18] Table Q.10A, cross-tabulation data file.

[19] Table Q.11, cross-tabulations data file.

[20] Table Q.9, cross-tabulations data file.

[21] Table Q.18, cross-tabulations data file.

[22] Table Q.14, cross-tabulation data file.

[23] Respondents were shown a list of possible types of discrimination and asked to indicate which, if any, they have personally experienced in the past five years (multiple mentions were permitted).

[24] Table Q.15, cross-tabulation data file.

[25] Table Q.16, cross-tabulation data file.

[26] Table Q.17, cross-tabulation data file.

[27] Tables Q.12 and Q.13, cross-tabulation data file.

[28] Table Q.14, cross-tabulations data file.

[29] Tables Q.15, cross-tabulations data file.

[30] Tables Q.16, cross-tabulations data file.

[31] Table Q.17, cross-tabulations data file.

[32] Table Q.2, cross-tabulations data file.

[33] Table Q.3, cross-tabulations data file.

[34] Table Q.4, cross-tabulations data file.

[35] Tables Q.6, cross-tabulations data file.

[36] Tables Q.19, cross-tabulations data file.

[37] Tables Q.11, cross-tabulations data file.

[38] Tables Q.9, cross-tabulations data file.

[39] Tables Q.10, cross-tabulations data file.

[40] Tables Q.13, cross-tabulations data file.

[41] Table Q.14, cross-tabulations data file.

[42] Tables Q.15, cross-tabulations data file.

[43] Tables Q.16, cross-tabulations data file.

[44] Table Q.2, cross-tabulations data file.

[45] Tables Q.3, cross-tabulations data file.

[46] Tables Q.6, cross-tabulations data file.

[47] Table Q.19, cross-tabulations data file.

[48] Tables Q.8, cross-tabulations data file.

[49] Tables Q.10, cross-tabulations data file.

[50] Tables Q.10, cross-tabulations data file.

[51] Tables Q.10, cross-tabulations data file.

[52] Tables Q.10, cross-tabulations data file.

Appendix A: Methodology

The OHRC commissioned the Environics Research Group to do a public opinion survey on human rights in Ontario. The OHRC followed the Ontario Government procurement process for research services and the Environics Research Group was the successful vendor of record.

Environics conducted the survey between January 24 and February 2, 2017, and then provided the OHRC with cross-tabulation data tables and an analysis of findings along with the complete survey data file.

The cross-tabulation data tables and the complete survey data file are available on the OHRC’s website for download and additional research. The data tables are numbered and organized based on the survey questionnaire and the information in this report is endnoted accordingly. The information in this report relies on the data identified in the cross-tabulation tables as statistically significant by the Environics Research Group.

Survey method

Environics conducted the survey online using a sample of 1,501 people age 18 and older, drawn from a panel of over 100,000 members. The OHRC chose the online method to avoid a “social desirability” bias, where people tell telephone interviewers what they think is the more socially desirable response. In a more anonymous online survey, people can be more honest about how they feel on sensitive issues like human rights and discrimination. Online panel surveys are a widely accepted research methodology.

Target population

The survey’s objective was to gather data from a representative sample of Ontario residents (18 years and over) that was large enough to be extrapolated to the full population with a reasonable degree of confidence, and that would allow for analysis by important subgroups. A sample size of 1,500 can provide meaningful and statistically reliable results for important segments of the population, whether this is by region, gender, age or other relevant demographic characteristics such as education level, religious practices, LGBTQ identity, presence of a disability, and ethnicity. These factors (and others) were expected to be important differentiators in opinions about human rights in Ontario.

The survey’s sample size presents a challenge when considering another important factor: how discrimination may be unique or distinct when it occurs based on two or more grounds that are protected under the Code. The complete survey data file is available for researchers who wish to do a more in-depth intersectional analysis.

The results of an online panel survey cannot be quoted in terms of “margin of sampling error” in accordance with industry practices.[53] However, the final data were weighted so that the results accurately reflect opinions across strata proportionate to the actual population.

Respondent profile

Table 11: Regional distribution of survey respondents

  Sample Size
(Weighted)
Sample Size
(Unweighted)
Population*
East/Central Ontario 285 302 20%
Greater Toronto Area GTA 720 661 45%
City of Toronto 315 310 21%
Outer GTA 405 351 24%
South western Ontario 405 420 29%
Northern Ontario 90 118 6%
Total 1501 1501 100%
  * Population %
based on 2011 Census

 

Graph 5: Gender identity distribution of survey respondents

This pie graph shows that 52% of respondents identified men, and 48% identified as women.

 

 

Graph 6: Age distribution of survey respondents

This bar graph shows that 21% of respondents were 18 – 29; 25% were 30 – 34; 28% were 45 – 59; and 26% were 60 or older.

 

Graph 7: Education level of survey respondents

This bar graph shows that 15% of respondents had a high school diploma or less; 40% had college/some university; 30% had undergraduate university; and 15% had post graduate education.

 

Table 12: Household income of survey respondents

Earn <$40,000 22%
Earn $40k Ð<$60k 17%
Earn $60k - <$80k 17%
Earn $80k - <$100k 13%
Earn $100k - <$150k 19%
Earn $150k+ 13%

 

Graph 8: Birthplace of survey respondents

 This pie graph shows that 78% of respondents were born in Canada, and 22% were born outside of Canada.

Table 13: Race, ethnicity, religion and disability status of survey respondents
Group % of Ontario population* Expected n Actual n (unweighted)
Racialized/Ethnic groups  
Total racialized groups 25.9 389 363
South Asian 7.6 114 63
Chinese / South East Asian 5 75 161
Black 4.3 65 59
Indigenous 3.5 53 59
Religious groups  
Muslim 4.5 68 36
Hindu 2.9 44 18
Jewish 1.5 23 37
Sikh 1.4 21 11
Disability status  
Persons with a disability 15.5%** 233 332
  * Based on the 2011 National Household Survey

** Based on information from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

 

Questionnaire design

The OHRC based its survey questionnaire on one designed for the Quebec Human Rights Commission through a partnership with several universities. Some of the questions were modified for Ontario's context and the particular needs of the OHRC.

The survey asked respondents 19 questions about awareness of human rights and discrimination, attitudes towards groups and their accommodation needs, and experience with discrimination, as well as 17 demographic questions about level of education, income, labour force participation, creed, age, ethnicity/ancestry/place of birth, current postal code, disability, gender identity, sex-assigned at birth, and lived gender identity.[54]

The OHRC recognizes that the meaning and use of words related to people’s identities can evolve and change over time. Certain terms in the questionnaire were chosen to ensure common understanding across respondents. Some terminology and statements were intently provocative, to elicit the candid views of respondents. In this report, we have replaced some of those terms to respect how individuals and groups identify themselves today.

The survey was available in English and French. Respondents were offered the opportunity to communicate by telephone with the polling firm if they had any difficulty completing the survey online.


[53] As there is no source of random e-mail addresses, this survey used an online panel. Canada’s research industry association, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA), has recently issued a new “code of practice” for its members stating that because panel-based surveys are not based on random probability samples, their results cannot be quoted in terms of “margin of sampling error,” as is used for probability-based telephone surveys.

[54] Survey Q.E (gender identity), Q.H (sex assigned at birth) and Q.I (lived gender identity) are based on a multi-dimensional sex/gender measure recommended in: Transgender-inclusive measures of sex/gender for population surveys: Mixed-methods evaluation and recommendations. Greta R. Bauer, Jessica Braimoh, Ayden I. Scheim, Christoffer Dharma. Published: May 25, 2017https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178043.

Appendix B: Survey questionnaire

This survey is being conducted on behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The questions are general and your responses will not be attributed to you in any way. It will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

  1. Are you 18 years of age or older and a resident of Ontario? (Select one response only)

      Yes

      No       [TERMINATE]

  1. What area of Ontario do you live in?
    1. Eastern Ontario (i.e. Kingston to Ottawa)
    2. Central Ontario (i.e. Barrie, Peterborough, Orillia etc.…)
    3. City of Toronto (416)
    4. The suburban “905” belt around Toronto
    5. Hamilton-Niagara
    6. Western Ontario
    7. Northern Ontario

 

  1. What are the first three digits of your postal code?

[Validate – L#L - NOTE REGIONAL QUOTAS]

 

  1. In what year were you born?

[Open-ended Numeric – MIN SHOULD BE 1916, MAX SHOULD BE 1998. 

 

  1. How would you describe your current gender identity?
    1. Male
    2. Female
    3. Neither male nor female, or gender fluid or diverse
    4. Other cultural gender identity (e.g. Indigenous two-spirit)

 

1.    Thinking about the way things are going these days here in Ontario, would you say that for most people life is generally going very well, somewhat well, not very well or not at all well?

  1. Very well
  2. Somewhat well
  3. Not very well
  4. Not at all well

 

2.    For the purpose of this survey, “human rights” means people being free of discrimination or harassment and having equal opportunity in employment, housing, services, contracts and vocational associations (like unions and professional organizations) regardless of factors like race, ethnicity, religion, place of origin, Indigenous or Aboriginal ancestry, sex or gender identity, sexual orientation, age, criminal record, marital or family status, disability or being on social assistance.

Generally speaking, how much of a problem do you think there is in Ontario with people being harassed or discriminated against? Is this…

  1. A major problem
  2. Somewhat of a problem
  3. Not much of a problem
  4. Not a problem at all

 

3.    In Ontario, what do you think are the three most common reasons why people experience discrimination and/or harassment? CHECK OFF UP TO THREE RESPONSES

  1. Sex
  2. Being transgender
  3. Age      ASK Q. 3a
  4. Sexual orientation
  5. Being Indigenous or Aboriginal
  6. Race or colour
  7. Ancestry or ethnic origin
  8. Place of origin
  9. Citizenship status
  10. Creed or religion
  11. Pregnancy
  12. Family status (responsible for caring other family members, e.g. young children or elderly parents)
  13. Marital status
  14. Disability
  15. Receipt of social assistance
  16. Other (SPECIFY)_________________

 

IF AGE WAS SELECTED IN Q. 3, ASK:

3a. You indicated that you think age is a common reason why people experience discrimination and/or harassment in Ontario. Which form of age discrimination were you thinking of?

  1. Discrimination against youth (24 and under)
  2. Discrimination against middle age adults (25-64)
  3. Discrimination against seniors (65 and over)

 

4.    ASK ALL: How well protected do you think people’s human rights are in Ontario when discrimination and harassment happens?

  1. Very well protected
  2. Somewhat well protected
  3. Not very well protected
  4. Not protected at all

 

  1. Overall, how well informed do you feel about what protections and obligations you have under human rights law in Ontario? Are you…
    1. Very informed
    2. Somewhat informed
    3. Not very informed
    4. Not at all informed

 

  1. How familiar are you with each of the following?

 

ROWS

  1. Ontario Human Rights Code
  2. Ontario Human Rights Commission
  3. Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
  4. Human Rights Legal Support Centre of Ontario
  5. Indigenous or Aboriginal rights
  6. Impact of colonialism on Indigenous or Aboriginal peoples

 

COLUMNS

  1. Very familiar
  2. Somewhat familiar
  3. Not very familiar
  4. Never heard of it

 

7.    How accepting or tolerant would you say people generally are in Ontario towards people from a variety of cultural backgrounds, including immigrants from other countries? Are we…

 

  1. Too tolerant and accepting
  2. About as tolerant and accepting as we should be
  3. Not tolerant and accepting enough

 

8.    What is your personal feeling about each of the following groups of people in our society? Do you feel very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative or very negative?

 

ROWS – RANDOMIZE

  1. People with physical or intellectual, cognitive or learning disabilities
  2. People with mental health disabilities or addictions
  3. People with a different ethnic origin than yours
  4. Indigenous or Aboriginal people
  5. Black, African or Afro Caribbean people
  6. Arab people
  7. Asian people
  8. People of colour/visible minorities
  9. People with a different creed or religion than yours
  10. Muslim people
  11. Immigrants
  12. Refugees
  13. People on social assistance
  14. Lesbian, gay, or bisexual people
  15. Transgender people

 

COLUMNS

  1. Very positive
  2. Somewhat positive
  3. Neutral
  4. Somewhat negative
  5. Very negative

 

9.    Here in Ontario do you feel that we do too much, just the right amount or not enough when it comes to accommodating the needs of each of the following groups of people?

 

ROWS – RANDOMIZE

a)    People with physical disabilities

b)    People with intellectual, cognitive or learning disabilities

c)    People with mental health disabilities or addictions

d)    Pregnant women

e)    People responsible for caring for other family members (e.g. young children, elderly parents)

f)     Immigrants

g)    Transgender people

h)    Indigenous or Aboriginal peoples

i)      Muslim people

j)      People, other than Muslims, who practice a religion  

k)    French-speakers

 

COLUMNS

  1. We do too much
  2. Just the right amount
  3. We don’t do enough

 

  1. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements:

 

ROWS – RANDOMIZE

 

  1. We would be better off in Ontario if we stopped letting in so many immigrants
  2. Indigenous or Aboriginal people receive too many government benefits
  3. Some jobs are better suited for men, some are better suited for women
  4. Ontario is changing too quickly because of ethnic communities
  5. Immigrants should adapt to the laws and norms of our society
  6. It is normal for Ontario to evolve and reflect or adapt to the changing cultural diversity of our society
  7. When jobs are scarce, employers should prioritize hiring people born in Canada rather than immigrants
  8. You need to be cautious of people who are too open in showing their religious beliefs
  9. It’s understandable for an apartment owner or property manager to be concerned about renting to someone on social assistance
  10. We do enough to help people on social assistance. They could do more to help themselves if they wanted to.
  11. Students should learn more about human rights and responsibilities in school

l)      Discrimination is no longer a major issue. Therefore, we don’t need a human rights commission, human rights legal support service and human rights tribunal.

 

COLUMNS

  1. Strongly agree
  2. Somewhat agree
  3. Somewhat disagree
  4. Strongly disagree

 

  1. When you see people wearing the following things in public how does it make you feel? Are you very comfortable, somewhat comfortable, somewhat uncomfortable or very uncomfortable? 

 

ROWS – RANDOMIZE

  1. A man wearing a turban
  2. Someone wearing a Christian cross around their neck
  3. A man wearing a kippah (Jewish skullcap)
  4. A woman wearing a hijab (head scarf) covering her hair
  5. A woman wearing a niqab or veil covering her face
  6. Traditional Mennonite clothing (bonnets and long dresses for women, black pants and hats for men)
  7. An Indigenous or Aboriginal person who keeps their hair long in a ponytail

 

COLUMNS

  1. Very comfortable
  2. Somewhat comfortable
  3. Somewhat uncomfortable
  4. Very uncomfortable

 

Now moving on to a different topic…

 

  1. Here are two points of view about how police forces treat different groups of people. Where would you position yourself? [PUT IN A FOUR POINT SCALE BETWEEN THE TWO VIEWS]

 

  1. The police must always treat everyone exactly the same way, regardless of which group or community they identify with
  2. The police need to be able to profile or target certain groups or communities that tend to commit more crime if they are going to do their jobs effectively

 

  1. Do you think the police would always, sometimes, rarely or never be justified in profiling or targeting each of the following groups of people when they enforce the law and conduct their investigations?

 

ROWS – RANDOMIZE

  1. Young people
  2. Indigenous or Aboriginal people
  3. Homeless people
  4. People with mental health disabilities and addictions
  5. Black/African-Canadian people
  6. South Asian people (e.g., East Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan)
  7. Southeast Asian people (e.g., Cambodian, Indonesian, Laotian, Vietnamese)
  8. Chinese people
  9. Arab people
  10. Muslim people
  11. Latin American people
  12. Lesbian, gay, or bisexual people
  13. Transgender people

COLUMNS

  1. Always justified
  2. Sometimes justified
  3. Rarely justified
  4. Never justified

 

  1. In the past five years, have you experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly by others because of… (Select all that apply)

 

  1. The colour of your skin or because of race
  2. Your ancestry, ethnic origin or culture
  3. Your age
  4. Your sexual orientation
  5. Your disability
  6. Your creed or religion
  7. Your sex (because you are female or male)
  8. Your gender identity (because you are transgender or gender non-conforming)
  9. Your gender expression (physical traits, hair, clothes, name, etc.)
  10. Because of pregnancy
  11. Your political beliefs
  12. For being on social assistance
  13. Having low employment income
  14. Using a food bank
  15. Having a criminal record
  16. Your marital status (single, married, separated, divorced, widowed)
  17. Your family status (i.e. you are responsible for children or aging parents or other dependent family members)
  18. Another reason (SPECIFY)________________
  19. No, I have not experienced discrimination in the past five years SKIP TO Q.18
  20. No, I have never been discriminated against SKIP TO Q. 18

 

ASK ALL WHO EXPERIENCED ANY DISCRIMINATION IN Q. 14 IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS:

 

  1. Did any of the incidents of discrimination you experienced involve sexual harassment?
    1. Yes
    2. No

 

  1.  Thinking about the last time you experienced discrimination, did this occur… (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY)
    1. At school
    2. At work
    3. Within a trade union or professional association
    4. When accessing housing
    5. In a public place
    6. In a shop/restaurant
    7. When interacting with police or other areas of the criminal justice system
    8. When accessing another service
    9. Somewhere else (SPECIFY) _______

 

  1. The last time you experienced discrimination, how did you respond? …CHECK ALL THAT APPLY
    1. You made a complaint to someone in the organization where it happened
    2. You had a discussion with the person who did it
    3. You talked about it with family/friends or someone else outside the organization
    4. You asked the Human Rights Legal Support Centre of Ontario for help
    5. You filed a complaint (called an application) with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
    6. You kept it to yourself and did not respond

 

ASK ALL

 

  1. Here is a list of ways in which people in Ontario sometimes have their needs accommodated. Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose these accommodations?

 

ROWS – RANDOMIZE

  1. Providing a prayer space for students
  2. Allowing transgender students to use washrooms based on their lived gender identity
  3. Prison cafeterias accommodating religious dietary requirements (e.g. offering an alternative to pork or beef such as seafood and vegetarian choices)
  4. Allowing extra time away (without pay if in employment) for religious or cultural reasons
  5. Giving a student with a learning disability longer to finish an exam
  6. Allowing someone time off from work for addiction treatment
  7. Rearranging work schedules to allow a parent to pick up their child from child care
  8. Allowing a service animal like a guide dog in a restaurant with a buffet
  9. Installing a small wooden curb ramp at the front of a shop to allow access for customers using wheelchairs or walkers

 

COLUMNS

  1. Strongly support
  2. Somewhat support
  3. Somewhat oppose
  4. Strongly oppose

 

19.  How often do you personally have any contact or interact with each of the following groups of people?

 

ROWS – RANDOMIZE

  1. People with physical or intellectual, cognitive or learning disabilities
  2. People with mental health disabilities or addictions
  3. People with a different ethnic origin than yours
  4. Indigenous or Aboriginal people
  5. Black, African or Afro Caribbean people
  6. Arab people
  7. Asian people
  8. People of colour/visible minorities
  9. People with a different creed or religion than yours
  10. Muslim people
  11. Immigrants
  12. Refugees
  13. People on social assistance
  14. Lesbian, gay, or bisexual people
  15. Transgender people

 

COLUMNS

  1. Frequently
  2. Sometimes
  3. Rarely
  4. Never

 

Demographics – On to some questions about you…

 

  1. Which of the following best describes your own present employment status? (Select more than one response if necessary)
    1. Working full-time
    2. Working part-time
    3. Unemployed or looking for a job
    4. Stay at home full-time
    5. Student
    6. Retired
    7. Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
    8. Ontario Works (“welfare”)
    9. Other social assistance or disability pension

 

  1. What is the highest level of education you have completed? (Select one response only)
    1. Part of high school
    2. Completed high school
    3. Some college or university
    4. College or technical school certificate
    5. University bachelor's degree
    6. Postgraduate university degree/professional designation

 

  1. What was your sex assigned at birth, meaning on your original birth certificate?
    1. Male
    2. Female

 

IF RESPONSE TO Q. H IS DIFFERENT FROM Q. E, ASK:

 

  1. In your day to day life, what gender do you currently live as?
    1. Male
    2. Female
    3. Sometimes male or sometimes female
    4. Neither male nor female

ASK ALL

  1. Were you born in Canada or in a country other than Canada?
    1. Canada
    2. Other country

IF BORN IN CANADA, ASK:

  1. Were your parents born in Canada, or in a country other than Canada?
    1. Canada
    2. Other country
    3. One parent born in Canada, one in another country

 

  1. People living in Canada come from many different ethno-cultural backgrounds or countries. Which of the following best describes your ancestry, ethnicity or place of origin? (Select up to two responses)
    1. Indigenous/Aboriginal (First Nations (North American Indian – includes Status and Non-Status Indians), Métis or Inuk (Inuit))
    2. British Isles (English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh)
    3. French
    4. Other European
    5. Chinese
    6. South Asian (e.g., East Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan)
    7. Southeast Asian (e.g., Cambodian, Indonesian, Laotian, Vietnamese)
    8. Black/African or Afro Caribbean
    9. Filipino
    10. Latin American
    11. Arab
    12. West Asian (e.g., Afghan, Iranian, Turkish)
    13. Japanese
    14. Korean
    15. Other: _________

 

  1. Which religion do you practice, if any?
    1. Roman Catholic
    2. Mainline Protestant denomination (Anglican, United Church, Presbyterian…)
    3. Evangelical Protestant denomination
    4. Orthodox Christian
    5. Judaism
    6. Islam
    7. Hinduism
    8. Buddhism
    9. Sikhism
    10. Indigenous or Aboriginal spirituality
    11. Other (SPECIFY)_______________
    12. None, do not practice any religion

 

Ma. How frequently do you practice your religion?

  1. Once a week or more
  2. Once a month
  3. Only on special occasions
  4. Never
  5. Don't know

 

  1. Which religion did you identify with during your childhood?
    1. Roman Catholic
    2. Mainline Protestant denomination (Anglican, United Church, Presbyterian…)
    3. Evangelical Protestant denomination
    4. Orthodox Christian
    5. Judaism
    6. Islam
    7. Hinduism
    8. Buddhism
    9. Sikh
    10. Indigenous or Aboriginal spirituality
    11. Other: ____________
    12. No religion

 

  1. Do you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or as queer or questioning?
    1. Yes
    2. No

 

  1. Do you have a disability of any kind? CHECK ALL THAT APPLY
    1. Yes, I have a physical disability (e.g. mobility, hearing, vision etc.…)
    2. Yes, I have an intellectual, cognitive or learning disability
    3. Yes, I have a mental health or addiction-related disability
    4. No, I do not have a disability

 

  1. To the best of your knowledge, what was the combined income of all people in your household, before taxes, in 2016? Was it…
    1. Less than $20,000
    2. $20,000 to $40,000
    3. $40,000 to $60,000
    4. $60,000 to $80,000
    5. $80,000 to $100,000
    6. $100,000 to $150,000
    7. More than $150,00

Thank you very much for completing the survey.

If you would like more information about Ontario’s Human Rights Code and the work of the Ontario Human Rights Commission please visit www.ohrc.on.ca.

If you believe you have experienced discrimination or harassment and want advice from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre please visit www.hrlsc.on.ca.

If you would like to file a complaint (called an application) with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario please visit www.sjto.gov.on.ca/hrto.