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New OHRC report takes fresh look at experiences of people with mental health and addictions disabilities

October 5, 2015

Toronto–The Ontario Human Rights Commission today launched By the numbers, a new report offering a statistical profile of people with mental health and addiction disabilities in Ontario. This launch was part of Taking it Local Peel, a one-day training event co-hosted by the United Way of Peel Region and the Regional Diversity Roundtable of Peel.

Creed accommodation involving cross-sex contact

July 29, 2015

Where two human rights conflict, the Supreme Court of Canada has said no rights are absolute, no one right automatically “trumps” any other, and any human right can be limited if it interferes with the rights of others.

Girls and women often face sexism, marginalization, discrimination, harassment and exclusion throughout society. Women have fought hard over the years for equal rights and treatment.

People belonging to minority creed communities have faced religious intolerance, including serious persecution, harassment, racism and discrimination.  

Deputation by Interim Chief Commissioner Ruth Goba - Toronto Police Services Board June 18, 2015

June 17, 2015

We were encouraged this week to hear Ontario’s Solicitor General and Minister for Community Safety and Correctional Services announce plans to regulate police street checks across Ontario.

The Minister was clear about what he wants: “to prevent unjustifiable police stops for no reason or without cause”. HOW to do this will be the difficult part – but ending “unjustifiable police stops” that amount to racial profiling is our goal.

OHRC seeks leave to intervene in racial profiling case

June 2, 2015

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission is seeking leave to intervene as a friend of the Court in the “Neptune 4” case, being heard by the Toronto Police Service Disciplinary Tribunal. The action is part of a longstanding effort by the OHRC to tackle racial profiling – an issue at the heart of the Commission’s mandate to promote and advance respect for human rights in Ontario. 

OHRC supports, makes recommendations on legislating standards for Police Record checks

June 2, 2015

Dear Minister, The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes your Ministry’s consideration of legislating standards set out in the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police 2014 Guideline for Police Record Checks.
We agree there is a lack of consistency with the various levels of record checks and their purposes, as well as the types of information disclosed. The OHRC has raised concern for a while now that police record checks have a negative impact on people with mental health disabilities who have non-criminal contact with police. That’s why we got involved in the development of the first OACP Guideline and endorsed its release in 2011.

Sexual Harassment Awareness Week June 1 – 7, 2015

June 1, 2015

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is pleased to mark Sexual Harassment Awareness Week. Sexual harassment continues to be a critical issue across Ontario society. Recent news coverage of incidents affecting female reporters while on the job highlights the pervasiveness of the problem for women at work. The OHRC has long recognized the serious impact of sexual harassment on its victims, and on an organization’s morale and overall productivity.

Correction: Toronto Police Service body–worn camera pilot project

May 27, 2015

Toronto - Several news outlets have recently quoted a Toronto Police Service (TPS) news release regarding body-worn cameras:

That release says, in part:

The Service has partnered with the Information & Privacy Commissioner, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Toronto Police Association to develop a procedure that addresses issues of privacy, retention, and disclosure. 

This statement is not accurate.

Opinion Editorial: Political will needed to end carding

May 23, 2015

Editor, The Toronto Star

This week Mark Saunders was sworn in as Chief of the Toronto Police Service. He arrived amid a controversy that marred his predecessor’s final days and one that refuses to go away – the police procedure commonly known as “carding.” As Chief Saunders starts down this new road he has a choice – to hear the voices of the community and work to end racial profiling or to allow a deeply troubling practice to continue.

Message from Interim Chief Commissioner Ruth Goba – Global Accessibility Awareness Day

May 21, 2015
Toronto2015: Let’s build an accessibility legacy

The upcoming Pan Am and Parapan Am Games are an exciting opportunity to showcase the many ways Ontario is a world leader. One notable accomplishment should be our ability to welcome and include guests and residents of all backgrounds and abilities. The Games offer a good opportunity to raise awareness about what Ontario and its municipalities are doing to promote and enhance accessibility.

Message from Interim Chief Commissioner Ruth Goba – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 20, 2015

Not just today – let’s challenge racism every day

It’s easy to identify discrimination when we hear hateful slurs or overt forms of bigotry. However, there are also many examples of more subtle – but equally pernicious – racism and racial discrimination.

There’s the judge who asks a Black woman in court where her lawyer is. In fact, the woman is the lawyer waiting for her client.

A Middle Eastern woman takes a seat at an empty restaurant. A White customer who enters after her is served first.

Message from Ruth Goba – Statement on International Women’s Day

March 6, 2015

Forty years ago, the United Nations declared March 8 as International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate women and their achievements, reflect on the progress towards equality, and promote an Ontario and world where there is true gender equality.

While we join the world in observing this day and honouring our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, allies and friends, we know that we still have work to do at the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Our work is not done when one in two Canadian women report having experienced some form of violence in their lifetime.

Lack of progress in addressing racial profiling in policing: An Ontario Human Rights Commission statement

March 5, 2015

Racial profiling is a longstanding and deeply troubling concern of the African Canadian community, other affected racialized communities, and of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “OHRC”).  In the past few years, many racialized people have experienced carding as yet another form of racial profiling. 

The OHRC has frequently identified two key issues in the Toronto Police Service Procedure on Community Engagements that are critical to prevent racial profiling. To be consistent with the Human Rights Code and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Procedure:

Re: Applying a human rights lens in zoning, licensing and municipal decision-making

February 25, 2015

Dear Colleagues, As new and returning mayors, councillors and elected officials, you play a central role in ensuring that municipal processes and decisions respect the human rights of all community members. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has worked for several years with governments, experts and community partners to increase human rights compliance in housing, land use and licensing. I’m writing to share some positive developments in these areas, and to point out some OHRC resources that can help you make your community more inclusive.

Letter to Hon. Madeleine Meilleur re: Accounting professions legislation

February 24, 2015

Dear Minister,

Re: Accounting professions legislation

It has come to the attention of the Ontario Human Rights Commission that the Ontario Government is looking at making changes to the statutes dealing with the Certified Management Accountants of Ontario, the Certified General Accountants Association of Ontario and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in recognition that these bodies have effectively unified under the banner Chartered Professional Accountants.

Letter to Chief Nathalie Prouvez, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations

February 20, 2015

Nathalie Prouvez, Chief
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations

Dear Ms Prouvez,

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the opportunity to provide input into your study on the right to participation in political and public affairs, as enshrined in article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in other international human rights treaties.

Message from Barbara Hall – Statement on Black History Month

February 4, 2015

In 1948, before Ontario’s Human Rights Code came to life, Hugh Burnett launched the National Unity Association in Dresden – the home of Uncle Tom’s cabin. Racial discrimination was commonplace during that era, with restaurants refusing to serve Black clients. Activists – people like Burnett, Donna Hill, Ruth Lor Malloy and Bromley Armstrong – led efforts to create anti-discrimination laws and advance human rights in our province.

OHRC welcomes new procedures for changing sex designation on birth registration for minors

December 15, 2014

The Government of Ontario has taken another important step in its work to remove barriers and advance the human rights of transgender people.

The OHRC welcomes Ontario’s new procedures and forms allowing for changing sex designation on the birth registration of minors.

Position Statement – Discrimination on the basis of sex in recruitment for the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program

December 10, 2014

It has come to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s attention that employers in Ontario are hiring almost exclusively men to work on their farms as part of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). Research shows us that each year, less than 4% of the workers that come to Ontario through the SAWP are women.

Updated Policy on preventing discrimination because of pregnancy and breastfeeding

October 28, 2014

Toronto – The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released an updated version of its Policy on preventing discrimination because of pregnancy and breastfeeding in an eLaunch today.

An hour-long webinar – available at – provides an overview of the policy, offers a Q&A opportunity, and features several speakers.

“OHRC Today” OHRC releases its 2013-2014 Annual report

September 4, 2014

For immediate release

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) today released its 2013-2014 Annual Report.

Commenting on her final report before stepping down as OHRC Chief Commissioner this November, Barbara Hall said, “Our annual report provides a snapshot of the Commission’s efforts over the last 12 months to create real change and advance human rights in Ontario, with the help of partners across the province.”

Letter to Chief Paul Cook, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) President

August 1, 2014

Chief Paul Cook
President, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police

Dear Chief Cook,

On behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), I would like to congratulate the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) for its updated version of the LEARN Guideline for Police Record Checks with a clearer presumption against disclosure of non-conviction records.

Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code - OHRC submission regarding the College of Physicians and Surgeons policy review

August 1, 2014

Please find attached the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) submission in response to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s (CPSO) review of its policy on Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Allegations of racial profiling of migrant workers troubling: OHRC

July 17, 2014

Toronto – The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) took another step to eliminate racial profiling in Ontario by speaking out in the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) systemic review of the OPP practices for obtaining voluntary DNA samples. The OHRC is troubled by allegations that the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) engaged in racial profiling when requesting DNA samples from migrant workers near Vienna, Ontario as part of a sexual assault investigation in October and November 2013.

Letter to Frank Fabiano, Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Thorold re: Black Hawk warrior image

July 16, 2014

Frank Fabiano
Chief Administrative Officer, City of Thorold

Dear Mr. Fabiano,

I am writing in response to your request for advice regarding the issue raised by people of Aboriginal heritage in your community who find objectionable the current Black Hawk warrior image used by local hockey teams and their associations in Thorold, Ontario.

New OHRC Policy addresses human rights for people with mental health or addiction disabilities

June 18, 2014

For immediate release

Toronto – A new policy, released today, aims to provide user-friendly guidance on how to define, assess, handle and resolve human rights issues related to mental health and addiction disabilities. The Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions was released by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC).

Re: Report no. 14-29, Rental housing licensing recommended approach

May 2, 2014

I am writing in support of the steps that are recommended in Report no. 14-29 – that instead of putting a licensing system in place for rental housing, the City of Guelph use existing bylaws to deal with property concerns. Licensing can be a good tool if its focus is on Building Code, Fire Code and health and safety standards, but it is not an appropriate option for dealing with the actions of the people who may live in the housing. This is why we concur with the report’s recommendation to expand existing programs to target the actual problem areas, without adding an extra cost to tenants across the City.

Re: Anti-immigration group draws fire from Brampton community leaders

April 25, 2014

I was delighted to see the prompt response of Mayor Susan Fennell and other community leaders to the anti-immigration flyer. At the Ontario Human Rights Commission an important part of our work is helping communities deal with issues of tension and conflict. But we know that the most effective answer to people who would try to create division between us is to unite in opposing such efforts. Speaking out strongly in favour of respect and inclusion helps make us all stronger. Well done, Brampton!

Deputation to Toronto Police Services Board re: community contacts policy - April 24, 2014

April 24, 2014

We thank the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) for listening to concerns raised by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and other advocacy and community groups in previous deputations. In particular, we acknowledge that the TPSB has set out a definition of public safety as well as disciplinary measures in the event that the policy is breached.  

However, we have concerns about the policy as drafted, including those described below.    

Toronto Police Service racial profiling and carding: deputation to Toronto Police Services Board

April 8, 2014

The Toronto Police Services Board’s Draft Policy is an important step in its efforts to monitor and oversee reforms to the current approach to Community Contacts. The Draft Policy refers to important principles including disengagement, rights knowledge, and compliance with the Human Rights Code and the Charter. We agree that surveys to gauge public satisfaction regarding street checks, and data collection in a separate database to monitor for racial bias in street checks, are valuable.

OHRC granted leave to intervene in Tanudjaja et al. v. The Attorney General of Canada et al

April 1, 2014

In 2011, four individuals and the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation filed an application against the Attorney General of Canada and the Attorney General of Ontario. The application alleged that Canada and Ontario have violated their rights under sections 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by creating and maintaining conditions that lead to and sustain homelessness and inadequate housing.

Re: Agenda items 7.(i) and 9.(vi): new comprehensive Zoning By-law, co-owned housing and communal dwellings

March 17, 2014

The OHRC provided guidance to the Township of Scugog about human rights principles relating to housing, as they considered amendments to their Zoning Bylaw relating to co-owned housing geared toward older Ontarians and people with disabilities. Following input from the community and the OHRC, the Township’s decision was to not create a special category, but treat the housing the same as any other residential housing.

OHRC releases statement on IBAs and human rights

March 4, 2014

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is releasing a public statement (attached) clarifying the legitimate status of preferential employment and contracting provisions within Impact and Benefit Agreements (IBAs) under Ontario’s Human Rights Code (the Code). Our position is that the preferential employment and contracting provisions in IBAs are consistent with “special programs” under section 14 of the Code.