The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recognizes that it is a legitimate goal for employers to have a safe workplace. Safety at work can be negatively affected by many factors, including fatigue, stress, distractions and hazards in the workplace. Drug and alcohol testing is one method employers sometimes use to address safety concerns arising from drug and alcohol use. Drug and alcohol testing has particular human rights implications for people with addictions. Addictions to drugs or alcohol are considered “disabilities” under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code). The Code prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and perceived disabilities in employment, services, housing and other social areas.
The Code protects people from discrimination and harassment because of past, present and perceived disabilities. “Disability” covers a broad range and degree of conditions, some visible and some not visible. A disability may have been present from birth, caused by an accident, or developed over time.
There are physical, mental and learning disabilities, mental disorders, hearing or vision disabilities, epilepsy, mental health disabilities and addictions, environmental sensitivities, and other conditions.
- Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities (2018)
- Policy on drug and alcohol testing (2016)
- Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability (2016)
- Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions (2014)
- Policy on environmental sensitivities (Canadian Human Rights Commission, 2014)
June 1996 - The guidelines contained in this policy are intended to help applicants, employees and employers to understand their rights and responsibilities regarding employment-related medical information.
November 1996 - This policy clarifies the scope of the Code's protection for persons who are or are perceived to be infected with HIV or who have contracted HIV-related illnesses. The guidelines contained in this policy are based on extensive consultations between the OHRC and a wide-ranging number of interest and advocacy groups, employer groups, services providers, and members of the medical community, including hospital administrators.
June 2014 - The OHRC’s Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions is intended to provide clear, user-friendly guidance on how to assess, handle and resolve human rights matters related to mental health and/or addictions. All of society benefits when people with mental health or addiction disabilities are given equal opportunity to take part at all levels.
September 2018 - Ontario’s Human Rights Code and the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s policies apply to cannabis in the same way they do for other drugs. The Code protects people who use cannabis for a medical purpose related to a disability from discriminatory treatment in employment, housing, services and other areas. The Code also prohibits discrimination against people who have or are perceived to have an addiction to cannabis based on the ground of disability.
November 2009 - The OHRC is developing a human rights mental health strategy to guide its activity in addressing systemic areas of discrimination affecting people with mental health disabilities. In September 2009, the OHRC started meeting with individuals and organizations in the field regarding human rights concerns faced by people with mental health disabilities. This second stage of consultation is aimed at soliciting your views to identify key approaches, issues and projects in these areas.
April 2016: We are currently revising our Policy on drug and alcohol testing (2000). This summary contains some of the important points employers should be aware of in the interim. The updated policy will be available before the end of the year.
2006 - Public transit in cities across Ontario is fundamental to the ability of many people to participate meaningfully in the life of their communities. Public transportation is used to access employment, education, public and social services and community activities. Equal access by persons with disabilities to public transportation is a right protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code (“Code”). Equal access to transit services in not a reality for many citizens of the Province and despite its importance in our daily lives, barriers to public transit services remain.