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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. 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.
  4. 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.

  5. Removing the “Canadian experience” barrier – A guide for employers and regulatory bodies

    July 2013 - When an employer requires people applying for jobs to have “Canadian experience,” or where a regulatory body requires “Canadian experience” before someone can get accredited, they may create barriers for newcomers to Canada. Requiring “Canadian experience” could violate the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code), which protects people from discrimination based on grounds such as race, ancestry, colour, place of origin and ethnic origin.

  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. OHRC remarks to the Ontario Legislative Standing Committee on Social Policy regarding Bill 13 and Bill 14

    I am here today on behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission to indicate our general support for this proposed legislation.Let there be no doubt. Bullying is a critical human rights matter. Ontario’s Human Rights Code is Ontario’s highest law. All schools, including public, Catholic and private, have a legal duty to provide students with an educational environment free from harassment and other forms of discrimination because of their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability and sex including gender identity.

  8. OHRC comment to the Ontario Ministry of Labour regarding Canada’s 2012 ILO Article 22 Report on Discrimination Convention 111

    This submission outlines recent developments for the reporting period June 1, 2011 through May 31, 2012 related to discrimination in employment and the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (the OHRC) mandate. It includes OHRC activities, recent case law and comment regarding relevant ILO Committee observations and direct requests.

  9. MMAH Provincial Policy Statement Review on land use planning - OHRC submission

    November 23, 2012 - The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) is proposing amendments to the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) 2005 on land use planning issued under the Planning Act (Act). The Act requires the PPS be reviewed every five years. The Ministry began the review in March 2010. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is pleased to see proposed amendments that address some of the concerns and recommendations from its initial submission made in 2010 as well as other amendments that would further advance protection for human rights. The OHRC especially welcomes proposed additions that would recognize the interests of Aboriginal communities.

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