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)
On May 31, 2016, the Court of Appeal for Ontario unanimously upheld decisions by the HRTO, which had found that Sharon Fair (Fair) had been subjected to employment-related discrimination by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (the School Board) and had ordered compensation for special and for general damages ($30,000) as well as an order for Fair’s reinstatement. The HRTO’s decisions had earlier been upheld by the Divisional Court.
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.
This submission outlines recent developments for the reporting period June 1, 2011 through May 31, 2012 related to discrimination in employment and the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (the OHRC) mandate. It includes OHRC activities, recent case law and comment regarding relevant ILO Committee observations and direct requests.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the OHRC) welcomes the opportunity to provide input into the independent mandatory review of the Accessibility for Ontarian’s with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). The OHRC has a long history of engaging its broad mandate promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, including providing advice to government dating back to 1998 on the development of successive pieces accessibility legislation as well as more recent submissions on standards being developed under the AODA.
August 2009 - The Ontario Human Rights Commission, (the “Commission”) commends the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (“Ministry”) for its work on an improved strategy to meet the needs of Ontarians with mental illnesses and addictions. The Commission is pleased to provide its input on this discussion paper, particularly with respect to the sections on Stigma and Healthy Communities.
May 2009 - The Ontario Human Rights Commission has reviewed the initial proposed Employment Accessibility Standard prepared by the Employment Accessibility Standards Development Committee pursuant to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The Commission would like to raise the following issues for consideration by the Committee as it deliberates and prepares to submit to government a final proposed standard following the public consultation period.
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.
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.