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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. Submission regarding Bill 89, Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act, 2017

    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,[1] including the overrepresentation of Indigenous and racialized children and youth in Ontario’s child welfare system.

  4. Submission of the Ontario Human Rights Commission to the Independent Review of the use of lethal force by the Toronto Police Service

    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.

  5. Submission of the OHRC to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services Provincial Segregation Review

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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