Because of the importance of human rights, both for individuals and for society at large, careful and serious consideration must be given to the potential impacts of changes to the present system on all stakeholders.
Every Ontarian has a stake in the effective protection and advancement of human rights in this province. All Ontarians are affected, whether as individuals potentially subjected to discriminatory behaviour; in their roles as employers, service providers and housing providers; or as citizens impacted by the broad societal effects of discrimination. Difficult choices must be made, and the options carefully weighed.
Human rights systems are complex, and involve trade-offs between competing priorities, principles and interests. There have been many attempts in recent years to design an optimal model for advancing and protecting human rights, and there has generally been recognition that all models present both benefits and drawbacks. A commitment to revitalizing Ontario’s human rights system is a major undertaking. Any effort to do so, if it is to be successful, must be informed by a comprehensive understanding of how the system works and has worked historically, the breadth and interaction of the system’s multiple functions, and the complexity of the challenges it currently faces.
Given these considerations, this consultation aims to:
- Clarify the principles and elements of an effective human rights system;
- Create an opportunity for a broad and balanced discussion on the issues and options;
- Ensure a transparent and open process leading to change;
- Develop meaningful and viable conclusions that will support a revitalization of Ontario’s human rights system;
- Assist in developing the best human rights system possible.
The release of this Discussion Paper is the first step in this consultation process, and is intended to provide a context and framework for public discussion on Ontario’s human rights system.
The Discussion Paper will be mailed out to stakeholders across the province. A questionnaire will be posted on the OHRC website from August 23, 2005 until September 16, 2005 to enable all interested individuals to share their thoughts. The OHRC will be inviting selected stakeholders who represent of a variety of perspectives to attend focus groups in September 2005. The results of the consultation will be reported to the public later in the fall.