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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  4. Fishing without fear: Follow-up report on the Inquiry into assaults on Asian Canadian anglers

    April 2009 - The goal of this report is to identify the progress of the commitments made by 22 organizations across Ontario in response to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (“Commission”) Inquiry into Assaults on Asian Canadian Anglers. From these commitments, best practices can be drawn. The Commission has also been monitoring any further incidents, and a description of these is provided.

  5. Racism and racial discrimination: Systemic discrimination (fact sheet)

    2005 - Racial discrimination can result from individual behaviour as well as because of the unintended and often unconscious consequences of a discriminatory system. This is known as systemic discrimination. Systemic discrimination can be described as patterns of behaviour, policies or practices that are part of the structures of an organization, and which create or perpetuate disadvantage for racialized persons.

  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. OHRC Response to the Race Data and Traffic Stops in Ottawa Report

    November 26, 2016 - The OPS’s Traffic Stop Race Data Collection Project (TSRDCP) arose as a result of a human rights complaint, in which a young Black man alleged that he experienced racial profiling by OPS officers. As part of the settlement, the OPS agreed that its officers would collect race-based data on traffic stops for two years beginning in 2013. The OPS fully complied with the settlement and even went beyond what was required in its data collection efforts, resulting in a comprehensive police data collection initiative. The research findings that have arisen from the data collection are alarming and are consistent with racial profiling.

  8. 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. 

  9. Under suspicion: Concerns about child welfare

    Racial profiling is an insidious and particularly damaging type of racial discrimination that relates to notions of safety and security. Racial profiling violates people’s 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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