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Race and related grounds

Under the Code, every person has the right to be free from racial discrimination and harassment in the social areas of employment, services, goods, facilities, housing accommodation, contracts and membership in trade and vocational associations. You should not be treated differently because of your race or other related grounds, such as your ancestry, ethnicity, religion or place of origin. 

Canada, its provinces and territories have strong human rights laws and systems in place to address discrimination. At the same time, we also have a legacy of racism – particularly towards Indigenous persons, but to other groups as well including African, Chinese, Japanese, South Asian, Jewish and Muslim Canadians – a legacy that profoundly permeates our systems and structures to this day, affecting the lives of not only racialized persons, but also all people in Canada.

Relevant policies: 

  1. Racial discrimination (brochure)

    2012 - The Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) provides for equal rights and opportunities, and freedom from discrimination. The Code recognizes the dignity and worth of every person in Ontario. It applies to the areas of employment, housing, facilities and services, contracts, and membership in unions, trade or vocational associations. Under the Code, every person has the right to be free from racial discrimination and harassment.

  2. Policy on Removing the “Canadian experience” barrier

    July 2013 - While the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recognizes the significance of all of the barriers newcomers potentially face when trying to access the job market, this policy will focus on “Canadian experience” as an employment or accreditation requirement, and as a practice that raises human rights concerns. The OHRC’s position is that a strict requirement for “Canadian experience” is prima facie discrimination (discrimination on its face) and can only be used in very limited circumstances. The onus will be on employers and regulatory bodies to show that a requirement for prior work experience in Canada is a bona fide requirement, based on the legal test this policy sets out.

  3. Policy on discrimination and language

    June 1996 - This policy statement sets out the OHRC’s position on language-based discrimination in the areas of employment, accommodation, services, contracts, and membership in trade unions, trades, occupational associations or self-governing professions. Although the Code does not explicitly identify "language" as a prohibited ground of discrimination, the Human Rights tribunal of Ontario may consider claims under a number of related grounds, such as ancestry, ethnic origin, place of origin and in some circumstances, race. In the Commission's experience, language can be an element of a complaint based on any of these grounds.

  4. de Lottinville and the application of Section 45.1 of Ontario's Human Rights Code

    February 25, 2015 - In the past, people who experienced discrimination or harassment by police had to decide whether to file an officer misconduct complaint under the Police Services Act (“PSA”) or an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“HRTO”). The PSA provides a public complaints process, revised through amendments in 2009 which also established the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (“OIPRD”). If they filed both, there was a real risk that their HRTO application would be dismissed.

  5. Policy on height and weight requirements

    June 1996 - Standards for height and weight are sometimes used to screen or evaluate job applicants. In the OHRC's experience, this tends to occur in recruitment for occupations that traditionally have been male dominated. These standards or selection criteria are based on the average physical stature of men in the majority population group. Women and members of racialized groups are, on the average, physically smaller than members of the majority population group. Consequently, these groups tend to be disadvantaged by height and weight criteria. The policy of the OHRC with regard to such recruitment practices is set out below. This policy applies to all height and weight criteria used in the context of employment.
  6. OHRC Submission to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services Review of the Child and Family Services Act

    The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the opportunity to provide input to the government’s legislated review of the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA). Section 1 of Ontario’s Human Rights Code protects children from discrimination in services, because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status or disability.

  7. Human rights commissions and economic and social rights

    2001 - This paper is one of several initiatives by the Ontario Human Rights Commission to explore ways in which human rights commissions can become more involved in protecting and promoting economic and social rights and in implementing international treaties to which Canada is a party. The challenge for human rights commissions is to find ways to maximize the potential of their mandates to promote international standards, including those contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  8. OHRC comment to the Ontario Ministry of Labour regarding Canada’s 2012 ILO Article 22 Report on Discrimination Convention 111

    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.

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