Twenty-five years after it was enacted, the provincial government (Government) is reviewing and revising the Police Services Act as part of its Strategy for a Safer Ontario (SSO). The OHRC welcomes the opportunity to provide input to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (Ministry) on the SSO.
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.
February 29, 2016 - The OHRC is concerned that segregation is being used in a manner that violates prisoners’ rights under Ontario’s Human Rights Code. As a result, the OHRC is calling upon MCSCS to end this practice and, in the meantime implement interim measures, including strict time limits and external oversight, to reduce the harm of segregation on vulnerable prisoners.
February 2014 - People with mental health disabilities are often among the most vulnerable people in Ontario. Many face a unique set of challenges where they live, in workplaces, or in our communities. When people are in crisis they also present a unique set of challenges to police services when considering the use of force. This leads to many concerns from a human rights perspective. It is not the role of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) to comment on individual cases – we leave it to other experts to resolve these. But it is our role to look at common themes and concerns, and offer ways to move forward.
April 3, 2017 - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the introduction of Bill 89, Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act, 2017. The Bill responds to human rights concerns raised by the OHRC about various aspects of Ontario’s child welfare system, including the overrepresentation of Indigenous and racialized children and youth in Ontario’s child welfare system.
Supplementary Submission of the Ontario Human Rights Commission to the
Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ Provincial Segregation Review
July 2003 - The main purpose of this report is to examine whether the Ontario Safe Schools Act and Regulations and the school board policies on discipline, known by some as “zero tolerance” policies, are having a disproportionate impact on racial minority students and students with disabilities. Advocates of zero tolerance argue that the policies are colour blind and fair because all the students who commit the same offence will be treated the same. Opponents point to other jurisdictions where there is data showing that suspensions and expulsions have a disproportionate impact on Black and other racial minority students and students with disabilities.
What is racial profiling?
Racial profiling is a specific type of racial discrimination that pertains to safety and security. The OHRC currently defines racial profiling as:
[A]ny action undertaken for reasons of safety, security or public protection that relies on stereotypes about race, colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or place of origin rather than on reasonable suspicion, to single out an individual for greater scrutiny or different treatment.
May 3, 2017 - During the consultation, we heard many perspectives and experiences. We heard concerns about racialized and Indigenous peoples being subjected to unwarranted surveillance, investigation and other forms of scrutiny, punitive actions and heavy-handed treatment. We also tried to explore other, less well-understood forms of racial profiling, which may be systemic in nature. This report presents what we learned about institutional policies, practices, prediction and assessment tools, and decision-making processes, which may seem neutral but may nonetheless amount to systemic racial profiling.