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Chief Commissioner comments on government's announcement about proposed reforms to Ontario's human rights system

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March 7, 2006

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For immediate publication


The Honourable Michael Bryant
Attorney General of Ontario
McMurtry-Scott Building
720 Bay Street, 11th Floor
Toronto, ON M5G 2K1

RE:  Proposed Reforms to Ontario’s Human Rights System

Dear Mr. Bryant:

I have now had an opportunity to discuss your recent announcement regarding changes to the human rights system in Ontario with my fellow Commissioners.  We are pleased that the Government plans to address longstanding issues in the system.

As you know, the Commission has long requested changes to help it be more effective in the delivery of its services to the public. We therefore welcome change, in particular, the Ministry’s plans to improve and strengthen the system’s focus on systemic issues, and its promotion and advancement functions for human rights.

For over 40 years, Ontario has been a leader, both at home and internationally, in protecting and advancing human rights. Building on this experience, we will work with you to address the challenges in developing an improved system.  Attached is a submission that outlines a series of principles and international standards that will be used by others to judge our success as we renew the human rights system.

In any reform, it is important that the new system benefit from knowledge gained under the previous system.  Staff at the Commission have worked long and hard to promote human rights under the current mandate of Ontario’s Human Rights Code, and been trained to deal with a diversity of issues and sensitivities. It is essential that this wealth of knowledge and experience be an integral part of the new system, and not be lost in the transfer of functions.

Following my discussions with fellow Commissioners on the proposed reforms, we request a meeting with you to discuss the Ministry’s plans for legislation, and how best the Commission and its staff can participate, with a mutual goal of ensuring Ontario remains a leader in human rights.

Yours truly,

Original Signed By

Barbara Hall, B.A, LL.B, Ph.D (hon.)
Chief Commissioner

Enclosure (Preliminary comments on proposed reforms to Ontario's human rights system)


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