The central issue in this appeal is the apparent conflict between the intersecting religious and equality rights of a witness and the fair trial rights of the accused in the context of a criminal proceeding. The OHRC’s submissions set out a process, based in existing case law, to analyze and reconcile potentially competing rights. The proposed process can apply, with appropriate modifications, to any competing rights claims whether they arise under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter), human rights legislation, the common law or otherwise.
Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, discrimination because of creed is against the law. Everyone should have access to the same opportunities and benefits, and be treated with equal dignity and respect, regardless of their creed.
The Code does not define creed, but the courts and tribunals have often referred to religious beliefs and practices. Creed may also include non-religious belief systems that, like religion, substantially influence a person’s identity, worldview and way of life. People who follow a creed, and people who do not, have the right to live in a society that respects pluralism and human rights and the right to follow different creeds.
July 2007 - The Ontario Human Rights Commission has reached a settlement with a complainant and Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited in a complaint alleging racial discrimination.
September 2013 - The OHRC is currently updating its 1996 Policy on creed. The goal is to clarify the OHRC’s interpretation of human rights based on creed under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) and advance human rights understanding and good practice in this area. The update, which began in 2011, will take two to three years to finish. It will involve extensive research and consultation, and will draw on lessons learned from the OHRC’s recent work on the Policy on competing human rights.
The OHRC sought leave to intervene in an appeal of the Federal Court’s decision to strike down a policy banning citizenship candidates from wearing face coverings during the citizenship oath.
The Commission intervened in Sarnia (City) v. River City Vineyard, an appeal heard by the Court of Appeal for Ontario in October 2014.
What protection does the Ontario Human Rights Code offer?
The Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) recognizes the dignity and worth of every person in Ontario. It provides for equal rights and opportunities, and freedom from discrimination. Indigenous peoples, including status, non-status, First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, are included in these protections.
The Code prohibits discrimination and harassment based on 17 personal attributes – called grounds. Creed is one of the protected grounds.
Before you receive an accommodation request
Minimize the need for accommodation up front by inclusively designing policies, rules, procedures, practices and spaces with everyone in mind (including people of diverse creed faiths).
Create an open, inclusive and safe environment free of discrimination and harassment so that people feel safe and welcome to express or observe their creed and ask for creed-related accommodations, without fear of reprisal or stigma. For example, you could: