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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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  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.

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