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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. Under suspicion: Research and consultation report on racial profiling in Ontario

    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. 

  2. The Ontario Safe Schools Act: School discipline and discrimination

    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.
  3. Report of the Ontario Human Rights Commission on police use of force and mental health

    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.

  4. Removing the "Canadian experience" barrier (brochure)

    Some employers ask people applying for jobs if they have “Canadian experience.” That can make it much harder for people new to Canada to find work. Some “regulatory bodies” (such as the professional associations for accountants or doctors) also ask for Canadian experience.

    The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) believes that asking for Canadian experience can result in discrimination. Employers and regulatory bodies should always have to show why Canadian experience is needed.

  5. Re: Dafonte Miller and Implementation of Justice Tulloch’s Recommendations

    August 15, 2017 - Dear Minister Naqvi, Directors McNeilly and Loparco, and Chair Lamoureux: We, the undersigned, urge the Government of Ontario, the Special Investigations Unit (“SIU”), the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (“OIPRD”), and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (“OCPC”), to immediately and transparently implement recommendations made by the Honourable Justice Michael Tulloch in his Report of the Independent Police Oversight Review submitted to the Ministry of the Attorney General in March 2017.

  6. 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.

  7. Preliminary findings: Inquiry into assaults on Asian Canadian Anglers

    December 2007 - During the summer and fall of 2007, there were reports of a series of incidents across southern and central Ontario in which Asian Canadian anglers were physically or verbally assaulted. Racial slurs were associated with a number of these incidents. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (“the Commission”) was gravely concerned by these reports.
  8. 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.

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