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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 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. What is racial profiling? (fact sheet)

    2003 - For the purposes of its inquiry, the Commission’s definition for "racial profiling" is any action undertaken for reasons of safety, security or public protection, that relies on stereotypes about race, colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or place of origin, or a combination of these, rather than on a reasonable suspicion, to single out an individual for greater scrutiny or different treatment.

  5. Talking about Canadian experience (fact sheet)

    July 2013 - In October 2012, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) hosted an online survey to learn more about the experiences of both job seekers and employers in dealing with requirements for Canadian experience. The survey was not about statistics – it was about giving people an opportunity to talk about the barriers they faced, and in the case of employers, the reasons for keeping or removing requirements for Canadian experience. We included many of stories and comments we heard in our new Policy on removing the “Canadian experience” barrier. The following sections highlight some of the recurring themes we heard, and some of the more poignant stories of people facing discrimination because they did not have Canadian experience.

  6. 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.

  7. Under suspicion: Concerns about racial profiling by police

    Racial profiling is an insidious and particularly damaging type of racial discrimination that relates to notions of safety and security. Racial profiling violates peoples’ rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code). People from many different communities experience racial profiling. However, it is often directed at First Nations, Métis, Inuit and other Indigenous peoples, Muslims, Arabs, West Asians and Black people, and is often influenced by the negative stereotypes that people in these communities face.

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