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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. Racial profiling inquiry: Background and process

    December 2003 - The Report wraps up the Commission’s inquiry initiative by relating what the Commission heard and providing an analysis of the effects of profiling on more than just the individuals and communities most likely to experience it. The Report also analyzes the detrimental impact that profiling is having on societal institutions such as the education system, law enforcement agencies, service providers, etc., and providers, etc., and provides recommendations for bringing an end to this practice.

  5. Backgrounder - Commission settles complaints with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

    October 2005 - The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (the “Board’) agrees that, when teachers or school administrators are alleged to have made inappropriate remark(s) toward a student regarding that student's race, colour, ethnic origin, place of origin, creed, or disability, or other grounds as protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code , or to have purposefully failed to appropriately accommodate the needs of disabled students, the Board shall investigate the allegations and implement measures, where appropriate, to ensure accountability. Such measures shall include, in appropriate circumstances, discipline up to and including termination.

  6. Backgrounder - Project Charter: Ontario Human Rights Commission / Toronto Police Service / Toronto Police Services Board

    July 2007 - Over the past few years in efforts to resolve human rights complaints, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) approached the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) and the Toronto Police Service (TPS) to include specific public interest remedies.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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