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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. 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.

  2. Removing the “Canadian experience” barrier – A guide for employers and regulatory bodies

    July 2013 - When an employer requires people applying for jobs to have “Canadian experience,” or where a regulatory body requires “Canadian experience” before someone can get accredited, they may create barriers for newcomers to Canada. Requiring “Canadian experience” could violate the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code), which protects people from discrimination based on grounds such as race, ancestry, colour, place of origin and ethnic origin.

  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. 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.
  5. Policy and guidelines on racism and racial discrimination

    June 2005 - This policy sets out the OHRC’s position on racism, racial discrimination and racial harassment, at the time of publication. It replaces the OHRC’s 1996 Policy on Racial Slurs and Harassment and Racial Jokes. It deals with issues that fall within the OHRC’s jurisdiction and which can form the subject matter of an application to the Tribunal. The policy is therefore bounded by the provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code and Canada’s legal framework for analyzing discrimination. At the same time, the policy interprets the protections in the Code in a broad and purposive manner.
  6. CMARD Booklet: Call for coalition of municipalities against racism and racial discrimination

    2006 - The Canadian Commission for UNESCO is inviting municipalities from across Canada to join a Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination and be part of a larger international coalition being promoted by UNESCO. This booklet provides information that will be useful in understanding some of the important details of this Coalition.

  7. Racial profiling inquiry: Background and process

    December 2003 - The Report wraps up the Commission’s inquiry initiative by relating what the Commission heard and providing an analysis of the effects of profiling on more than just the individuals and communities most likely to experience it. The Report also analyzes the detrimental impact that profiling is having on societal institutions such as the education system, law enforcement agencies, service providers, etc., and providers, etc., and provides recommendations for bringing an end to this practice.

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