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OHRC calls for reforms to immigrant detention system

April 11, 2016

Dear Minister Naqvi, I am writing today on behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), to express our concern about detention of non-citizens in Ontario jails under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (immigration detainees). 

As you know, in my previous capacity as Executive Director of the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, I was the editor of a 2015 report on immigration detention (http://ihrp.law.utoronto.ca/We_Have_No_Rights).

End segregation, says Ontario Human Rights Commission

March 7, 2016

by Renu Mandhane

In 2007, Ashley Smith died in federal custody in Kitchener, Ont., after spending extended periods of time in segregation (or solitary confinement). In 2010, Edward Snowshoe died by suicide while in custody in Edmonton, Alta., after spending 162 days in segregation. These cases have become emblematic of the incredible problems with the continued use of segregation in prisons.

OHRC letter on the systemic review of police officer mental health and suicide

February 24, 2016

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (Commission) is concerned about the number of officers experiencing mental health issues and dying by suicide as a result of their policing work, and the barriers – such as widespread stigma about mental health issues in the policing community – preventing officers from accessing adequate support. We understand that you are preparing to launch a systemic review to examine the experiences and suicides of Ontario police officers with mental health disabilities, and commend you for working toward addressing this serious problem.

To Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario re: Request for disaggregated data regarding children and youth in Ontario’s child welfare system

February 24, 2016

By way of introduction, I am the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). On December 16, 2015, the OHRC announced that it will use its mandate under the Ontario Human Right Code (Code) to examine the overrepresentation of Indigenous and racialized children and youth in the child welfare system.

OHRC Statement on Ontario’s New Anti-Racism Directorate

February 16, 2016

Toronto – Today, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the establishment of an Anti-Racism Directorate.  The new body will be tasked with providing an anti-racism lens to the development and implementation of government policies, and will also be involved in some aspects of education and promotion. The official announcement is here: bit.ly/20XT3Bz.

Black History Month: let’s celebrate the past, eradicate anti-Black racism today

February 1, 2016

February is Black History Month. It’s a time to celebrate the stories and significant contributions of Black Canadians to our province and our country. In fact, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) came into being more than half a century ago under the leadership of Daniel G. Hill, who as a Black man faced prejudice and exclusion while simply trying to find a place to live.

Honouring Holocaust victims is an important reminder of work left to do to eradicate racism

January 27, 2016

Observing the UN International Day of Commemoration in memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

Today is the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. It’s a day to remember the genocide that resulted in the murder of millions of Jewish people in World War Two, along with the systematic killing of people with disabilities, Roma persons, and many other minority groups across Europe and Asia.

OHRC files claim against Toronto Police for refusing to memorialize officers who end their lives due to a mental health disability incurred in the line of duty

January 8, 2016

On November 11, 2015, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) filed its own application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) alleging discrimination in employment based on disability because of the Toronto Police Service’s (TPS) failure to include on its Memorial Wall officers who end their lives as a result of a mental health disability incurred in the line of duty.

New documentation guidelines for accommodating students with mental health disabilities

January 6, 2016

Toronto - Navi Dhanota, represented by ARCH Disability Law Centre; York University and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) have worked together to develop new documentation guidelines to access academic accommodations. The change in guidelines means that students will no longer have to disclose their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) diagnosis to register for mental health accommodations and supports.

OHRC Chief Commissioner recognizes Ottawa Police Service for leadership in addressing bias and discrimination

December 18, 2015

Dear Chief Bordeleau, I am writing to commend the Ottawa Police Service for its continued leadership in addressing bias and discrimination in Ontario. Your proactive approaches have built strong and positive relationships with communities affected by hate crimes and are to be commended. I know that many officers and members from across your Service have been involved in these efforts.

The OHRC responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call for action on Indigenous children in the child welfare system

December 16, 2015

Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) calls to action, and to similar calls from racialized communities, by committing to address the goal of preventing and reducing the overrepresentation of Indigenous and racialized children and youth in the child welfare system.

OHRC submission to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services on street checks

December 11, 2015

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Draft Regulation on street checks of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (Ministry). We are pleased to have the support of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) on this important issue.

Updated creed policy gives guidance on protecting rights

December 10, 2015

Toronto – The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) today releases an updated Policy on preventing discrimination based on creed. The OHRC introduced its first policy on creed in 1996. Since that time, Ontario society has grown increasingly more diverse and there have been many important legal and social developments. The update reflects today’s issues and changes to case law, and provides expanded information in areas like Indigenous Spirituality and creed-based profiling.

History teaches us that difficult conversations about religion must start from respect and inclusion, not hate and division

December 10, 2015

Today is International Human Rights Day—the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The human rights movement was a direct response to widespread antisemitism which ultimately led to the Holocaust. By adopting the Universal Declaration in 1948, Canada and the international community rightly said, “Never again.”

Legal groups, community advocates, academics and Ontario Human Rights Commission call for tougher regulation on "carding"

December 7, 2015

A broad network of community advocates, human rights and legal experts, academics, concerned and affected individuals and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is calling on the Province to ensure that its Draft Regulation on police street checks – or “carding” – achieves the Minister’s stated objective of ending arbitrary and discriminatory police street checks. 

Human rights settlement aims to increase gender diversity in Ottawa Police Service

December 2, 2015

Toronto - A settlement has been reached with the Ottawa Police in a case that alleged a female police officer was denied training, job placement and promotion opportunities because of her family status, sex and maternity leaves. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) intervened at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to address systemic barriers to promotion and advancement that women can face. 

Insurer removes HIV/AIDS exclusion from emergency travel medical insurance policy

November 6, 2015

In May 2015, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) learned that a Canadian insurance company (RSA Canada) would not issue an emergency travel medical insurance policy to anyone who had ever been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS and obtained a copy of the exclusionary policy.

The OHRC wrote to RSA Canada to express concern that the HIV/AIDS exclusion might contravene Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

Op-Ed in the Hamilton Spectator commenting on “Carding is basic investigative work, Hamilton officers say”

October 29, 2015

Hamilton police chief Glenn De Caire's position on carding and street checks contains a fundamental and significant error.

In his September 21 letter to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Chief De Caire cites the Ontario Human Rights Commission and our recognition of “the importance of officer discretion.” We agree that discretion is important – vitally so. But we have always been clear: officer discretion must be informed and guided to prevent racial profiling – and discretionary decisions that are informed by racial bias should lead to officer discipline. 

Ontario Shores Launches Exciting New Project with the Ontario Human Rights Commission

October 16, 2015

(Whitby, ON) – Today, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) and the Ontario Human Rights Commission unveiled a new partnership to further develop human rights capacity at the specialty mental health centre.

Ontario Shores and the OHRC met last year to look at an opportunity to partner and support both organizations’ mission and values. The Project Charter signed today sets the framework for work that will happen over a three year term.

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: http://torontopolice.on.ca/newsreleases/31840

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.

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