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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. 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.
  2. Indigenous Peoples in Ontario and the Ontario Human Rights Code (brochure)

    2015 - The Ontario Human Rights Code is a provincial law that gives everybody the right to be free from discrimination in five parts of society – called social areas – based on one or more grounds. The five social areas are: employment, housing, services and facilities (such as education, health care, police, government, shops or restaurants), unions and vocational associations, and contracts or agreements.

  3. 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.
  4. Racial discrimination, race and racism (fact sheet)

    June 2005 - There is no fixed definition of racial discrimination. However, it has been described as any distinction, conduct or action, whether intentional or not, but based on a person’s race, which has the effect of imposing burdens on an individual or group, not imposed upon others or which withholds or limits access to benefits available to other members of society. Race need only be a factor for racial discrimination to have occurred.

  5. Racial profiling inquiry: Objectives (fact sheet)

    December 2003 - The Commission’s racial profiling inquiry initiative was undertaken in response to community concerns about the impact of profiling on members of their respective communities. The inquiry’s main objectives were to give individuals who had been subjected to profiling an opportunity to share those experiences and to show its effects on their families and communities. In doing so, the Commission hoped to raise public awareness of the harmful effects and the social costs of racial profiling.

  6. Racial harassment and poisoned environments (fact sheet)

    2005 - All Ontarians have the right to be free from harassment in the workplace or in housing accommodation because of, among other things, race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship and creed. While the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”) doesn’t explicitly prohibit harassment in the areas of services, goods and facilities, contracts or membership in trade and vocational associations, the Commission will treat racial harassment in such situations as a form of discrimination and therefore a breach of the Code.

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