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Commission releases revised policies

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December 22, 2000

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For immediate publication

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today released two revised policies. The Commission's Policy on Drug and Alcohol Testing has been updated to reflect the Ontario Court of Appeal's recent decision in Entrop v. Imperial Oil Ltd., a human rights complaint involving the introduction of a workplace policy requiring employees in safety-sensitive positions to disclose a past or current substance abuse problem. In this case, although the problem had occurred eight years earlier and there had been no further incident of substance abuse, the employee was immediately reassigned to another position. The employee subsequently filed a human rights complaint alleging discrimination because of a handicap.

In its ruling, the Court confirmed that both drug and alcohol dependencies are handicaps within the meaning of the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Court also made significant rulings on a number of other related issues including, pre-employment drug testing, random drug testing, random alcohol testing using breathalysers, required disclosure of past substance abuse problems and automatic reassignment of positions. These issues are incorporated in the revised Policy.

Chief Commissioner Keith Norton commented that, "This Policy is in keeping with the broader goals of the Code which includes the promotion of the inherent dignity and worth of everyone and the right to be treated equally without discrimination. In the area of drug and alcohol testing, I am confident that an appropriate balance can be struck between human rights and job requirements in the workplace."

The Commission has also updated its 1996 Policy on Female Genital Mutilation ("FGM"). FGM is a gender-specific discrimination related to the historical suppression and subjugation of women and female children. While this aspect of the policy remains unchanged, a new section has been added to reflect recent developments under the Ontario Child and Family Services Act that include a duty to report information with respect to a child who is in need of protection. The revised policy also includes reference to amendments under the Criminal Code that define the performance of FGM as aggravated assault.

The revised policies are available on the Commission's Web site.


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Afroze Edwards
Sr. Communications Officer
Communications and Issues Management
(416) 314-4528