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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. Policy on discrimination and language

    June 1996 - This policy statement sets out the OHRC’s position on language-based discrimination in the areas of employment, accommodation, services, contracts, and membership in trade unions, trades, occupational associations or self-governing professions. Although the Code does not explicitly identify "language" as a prohibited ground of discrimination, the Human Rights tribunal of Ontario may consider claims under a number of related grounds, such as ancestry, ethnic origin, place of origin and in some circumstances, race. In the Commission's experience, language can be an element of a complaint based on any of these grounds.

  3. Human rights commissions and economic and social rights

    2001 - This paper is one of several initiatives by the Ontario Human Rights Commission to explore ways in which human rights commissions can become more involved in protecting and promoting economic and social rights and in implementing international treaties to which Canada is a party. The challenge for human rights commissions is to find ways to maximize the potential of their mandates to promote international standards, including those contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  4. 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.
  5. Paying the price: The human cost of racial profiling

    October 2003 - The Report begins with a brief explanation and definition of racial profiling. In addition, the Report explains the human cost of racial profiling on the individuals, families and communities that experience it. It details the detrimental impact that profiling is having on societal institutions such as the education system, law enforcement agencies, service providers and so forth. It also outlines the business case against profiling – in essence the economic loss sustained as a result of racial profiling.
  6. Policy and guidelines on racism and racial discrimination

    June 2005 - This policy sets out the OHRC’s position on racism, racial discrimination and racial harassment, at the time of publication. It replaces the OHRC’s 1996 Policy on Racial Slurs and Harassment and Racial Jokes. It deals with issues that fall within the OHRC’s jurisdiction and which can form the subject matter of an application to the Tribunal. The policy is therefore bounded by the provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code and Canada’s legal framework for analyzing discrimination. At the same time, the policy interprets the protections in the Code in a broad and purposive manner.
  7. CMARD Booklet: Call for coalition of municipalities against racism and racial discrimination

    2006 - The Canadian Commission for UNESCO is inviting municipalities from across Canada to join a Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination and be part of a larger international coalition being promoted by UNESCO. This booklet provides information that will be useful in understanding some of the important details of this Coalition.

  8. 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.
  9. Fishing without fear: Report on the inquiry into assaults on Asian Canadian anglers

    May 2008 - During the Inquiry into Assaults on Asian Canadian Anglers, the Commission met with 21 organizations to identify solutions. These organizations included police services, municipalities, provincial government ministries, and community organizations. The Commission obtained over 50 commitments from these organizations and made an additional seven commitments. This report is an account of the results of the Inquiry.

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