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)
September 2000 - Drug and alcohol testing are of particular concern in the workplace, notably for those Ontario employers that have safety sensitive operations, and/or that are subject to U.S. regulatory requirements (e.g. the trucking industry) or to the policies of U.S. affiliates with “zero tolerance” for the consumption of drugs or alcohol. For this reason, this Policy focuses on the workplace. However, it applies to other social areas as well.
The Ontario Human Rights Code recognizes the importance of creating a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person, so that each person can contribute fully to the development and well-being of the community and the Province. The Code guarantees the right to equal treatment in education, without discrimination on the ground of disability, as part of the protection for equal treatment in services.
This Policy replaces the Guidelines on accessible education (2004).
The OHRC’s Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability is intended to provide clear, user-friendly guidance on how to assess, handle and resolve human rights matters related to disability. All of society benefits when people with disabilities are encouraged and empowered to take part at all levels.
November 2000 - Under the Code, everyone has the right to be free from discrimination because of disability or perceived disability in the social areas of employment, services, goods, facilities, housing, contracts and membership in trade and vocational associations. This right means that persons with disabilities have the right to equal treatment, which includes the right to accessible workplaces, public transit, health services, restaurants, shops and housing.
Year of decision: 2010
In a decision on June 16, 2010, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that the Toronto Police Services Board discriminated against a new recruit, Ariyeh Krieger, by not accommodating his mental disability to the point of undue hardship.
2004 - As part of the duty to accommodate, education providers are responsible for taking steps to plan for the accommodation of students with disabilities. Effective planning will take place both on an organizational and individual level.
Stereotyping involves making assumptions about individuals based on the presumed qualities of the group they belong to. When people stereotype others, they do not see the real person. Throughout the consultation, we heard how people faced a large amount of negative stereotyping, which can lead to discrimination.
October 2009 - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has reviewed the initial proposed Accessible Built Environment Standard prepared by the Accessible Built Environment Standards Development Committee pursuant to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The OHRC offers the following comment for consideration by the Committee and the Government as the Committee deliberates and prepares to submit to the Government a final proposed Standard following the public consultation period.
October 2010 - The OHRC is again raising a number of concerns about the proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation, echoing those we’ve highlighted in past AODA submissions. Specifically, the proposed IAR fails to identify interpretive human rights principles upfront and apply them to many of its provisions.