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Commission wins landmark decision finding Ontario Coroners Act discriminates against families of psychiatric patients

May 26, 2006

Toronto - A far reaching decision concerning the discriminatory treatment of psychiatric patients was issued by the Human Rights Tribunal on Tuesday, May 25, 2006. The complaints centred on the provisions of the Coroners Act, which make inquests mandatory when prisoners die in custody, but make inquests discretionary when involuntary psychiatric patients die when in a hospital or institution.

Ontario Human Rights Commission statistics for the year ending March 31, 2006

May 18, 2006

Toronto - The Commission provides information to tens of thousands of Ontarians. Last year, Commission staff dealt with over 43,000 inquiries by telephone, 1,760 by letter, and 760 in-person visits. It also received 824,887 unique visits to its website. In addition, the Commission’s public education activity on its policies and the Code reached a further 10,428 people. These contacts resulted in 2,399 new complaints being filed at the Commission.

Human Rights Commission sent 170 complaints to Tribunal this past year

May 11, 2006

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the "Commission") resolved 2,260 cases in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006, 45 more than last year. 1,291 cases, or 57 per cent, were resolved through negotiated settlements, 256 received Commission decisions after thorough consideration of parties' written submissions, and a further 170 were referred to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the "Tribunal") for an oral hearing.

Commission's initial response to the introduction of Bill 107 to reform Ontario's Human Rights System

April 28, 2006

Toronto - On April 26th, 2006, the Attorney General introduced in the legislature Bill 107, An Act to Amend the Human Rights Code, which, if passed, will reform Ontario’s human rights system. The Attorney General has taken the next step in reform of the human rights system by introducing legislation, stated to achieve a number of goals shared by the Commission.

Chief Commissioner clarifies that statements regarding direct access are inaccurate

April 13, 2006

Toronto - I would like to clarify my position regarding support for any proposed model to amend the human rights system. Recent reports suggest that I support the direct access model. These statements are inaccurate. I do not support any specific system, and will not until all of the parameters are made public. Any reform must be based on international principles and involve all affected communities.

Commission order reinforces rights of riders with disabilities to accessible public transit

April 7, 2006

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) has made an order declaring that paratransit services in Toronto, Hamilton, Windsor and London, are not “special programs.” Rather, these services form part of the legal duty on transit providers under Ontario’s Human Rights Code (the “Code”) to accommodate riders with disabilities who cannot access conventional public transit.

OHRC's work helps Windsor take steps to join UNESCO's international coalition against racism

March 22, 2006

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s ("OHRC") Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall commemorated March 21st, the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, alongside City of Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis, at a public ceremony held at the Mackenzie Hall cultural centre. Mayor Francis marked the occasion by signing a Declaration of Intent to join a Canadian Coalition of Municipalities against Racism and Discrimination. David Walden, the Secretary-General of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO ("CCU") was also present for the event.

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

March 7, 2006

Toronto - 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.

Human Rights Settlement Reached with Toronto District School Board

November 16, 2005

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Toronto District School Board have reached an important settlement following a Commission-initiated complaint against the Board in July 2005. The settlement deals with the application of safe school provisions of the province’s Education Act as well as its regulations and related TDSB policy and the disproportional impact on racialized students and students with disabilities. The complaint was not referred to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, but rather, was successfully resolved through cooperation and good will.

Human Rights Commission welcomes interim Chief Commissioner

October 31, 2005

Toronto - Earlier this month, the Ontario Human Rights Commission the "Commission") welcomed M. Evangelista Oliveira as its new interim Chief Commissioner. He was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council as interim Chief for the period effective October 17th, 2005, through January 31st, 2006, or until a new Chief Commissioner is appointed.

Divergent views signal need for more consultation on strengthening Ontario's human rights system

October 13, 2005

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission released a Consultation Report today called Strengthening Ontario’s Human Rights System: What We Heard. It reflects the feedback of a broad range of individuals and organizations that participated in a critical review of Ontario’s human rights system.

Commission settles complaints with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

October 6, 2005

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission has mediated a positive settlement with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. The four complaints arose from concerns that the application of school discipline policies was having a discriminatory impact on students from racialized communities and students with disabilities.

Commission's work receiving international attention

October 4, 2005

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) is receiving international attention for its work combating ageism and age discrimination. Chief Commissioner Keith Norton was recently invited to speak at the International Symposium on Age Discrimination held in London, England, in September. He presented a paper on the Commission’s approach to fighting ageism and age discrimination to an audience of international human rights practitioners.

Commission mediates settlement with school board in sexual orientation complaint

September 8, 2005

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) has settled a Thunder Bay case concerning discrimination based on sexual orientation. A mediated agreement between the parties involved will result in increased education and understanding around sexual diversity issues for students and staff of the Lakehead District School Board (the “Board’).

Commission to investigate application of safe schools legislation and policies

July 8, 2005

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) has initiated a complaint against the Ministry of Education (the “Ministry”) and the Toronto District School Board (the “TDSB”) alleging that the application of the Safe Schools Act and related school discipline policies is having a disproportional impact on racialized students and students with disabilities.

New human rights policy to modernize struggle against racism in Ontario

June 28, 2005

Toronto - “It is time organizations and institutions acknowledge the reality of racism and be prepared to act against subtle and sometimes subconscious prejudices and stereotypes that too often result in discrimination”, said Keith Norton, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission today as he announced the release of the Commission’s Policy and Guidelines on Racism and Racial Discrimination.

Ontario cases show racism and racial discrminiation are still common

June 24, 2005

Toronto - As the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “OHRC”) prepares to release its Policy and Guidelines on Racism and Racial Discrimination later this month, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton noted that allegations raised in recent cases dealt with by the OHRC and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “HRTO”) are a troubling reminder that racism and racial discrimination are still a significant problem in this province.

Human rights commission to champion in Ontario UNESCO's proposal for a Canadian coalition of municipalities against racism

June 16, 2005

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCU), and other partners, released a draft proposal this week calling for the establishment of a Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism, and is asking human rights commissions from across Canada to promote the proposal in their regions.

Chief commissioner supports government's move to end mandatory retirement

June 10, 2005

Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today endorsed the government’s introduction of legislation as a positive move towards ending mandatory retirement for older Ontario workers. "I am very pleased that the government has taken this step to respect the rights of older workers by introducing legislation that will enable individuals to decide for themselves when they wish to retire from the workplace rather than having this decision made for them by their employers," stated Mr. Norton.

Canadian Commission for UNESCO's "call for a coalition of cities against racism" receives support from Ontario's Human Rights Commission

March 11, 2005

Toronto - The Canadian Commission for UNESCO and Ontario’s Human Rights Commission announced today that they and other partners are setting up a working group of government and non-government organizations to develop and promote a proposal to Call for a Canadian Coalition of Cities Against Racism. Other partners include the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the Metropolis Project.

Chief Commissioner comments on Bill 118, the proposed "Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act"

February 23, 2005

Toronto - I welcome this opportunity to provide comments on Bill 118, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In the spring of last year, the Ontario Human Rights Commission ("the Commission") provided a written submission to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration’s public consultation on strengthening the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. As I believe that the comments of the Commission at that time remain relevant in considering Bill 118, I take this opportunity to provide it to you for your review. Having reviewed Bill 118, there are some points from this submission to which I would like to particularly draw your attention, as I believe they may be helpful to you.

Human Rights Commission reaches accessibility settlement with Mattamy Homes

February 14, 2005

Toronto - The home buyer, who uses a wheelchair, was purchasing a new home from the builder, but required a number of alterations to the standard design in order to make the premises accessible. There was an issue as to whether the builder’s policies and procedures appropriately considered accessibility changes upfront either in the contract of purchase and sale, or in the floor plan drawings. This would mean that a home buyer would have to first purchase the standard home, and then meet with a design consultant to discuss potential alterations, with no assurances that the home could be made accessible. The complaint was neither investigated nor referred to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal for a hearing. Rather, Mattamy Homes decided to resolve the issue in a direct and positive manner.

Letter to Ontario's Attorney General expressing concern about allowing public officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples

December 20, 2004

Toronto - I am writing to express concern over recent comments attributed to the Honourable Irwin Cotler urging provinces to allow public officials who are licensed to perform marriage ceremonies to refuse to perform this service for same-sex couples. As you know, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) intervened in the Same Sex Marriage Reference before the Supreme Court of Canada to protect the right of gay and lesbian Canadians to get married. In this regard, the Commission agreed with the Attorney General of Canada’s position that requiring a religious official to perform a marriage ceremony that does not accord with his or her religious beliefs about marriage would violate section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”).

Ontario Human Rights Commission takes further action to aid students with disabilities

November 30, 2004

Toronto - Following through on its commitment to help educational institutions, teachers, and parents better understand the duty to accommodate students with disabilities in Ontario’s schools, colleges and universities, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton announced the release of Guidelines on Accessible Education today.

Human Rights Complaints settled against the Ministry of transportation, City of Hamilton and DARTS

November 25, 2004

Toronto - A settlement has been reached between two Complainants with disabilities, the Ministry of Transportation, the City of Hamilton, and the Disabled and Aged Regional Transit System(“DARTS”), a transit service for persons with disabilities provided by the City of Hamilton.

Ten restaurant chains commit to improve accessibility

November 19, 2004

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today announced that another ten restaurant chains have voluntarily committed to a process that will eliminate barriers for customers with disabilities. They include: Burger King, Coffee Time Donuts, Harvey’s, Kelsey’s Neighbourhood Bar and Grill, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Montana’s Cookhouse and Milestones, Pizza Pizza, Red Lobster, Taco Bell and Timothy’s World Coffee. The Commission is still negotiating similar commitments with another eight chains.

Chief Commissioner commends government's consultation on mandatory retirement

October 21, 2004

Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton of the Ontario Human Rights Commission today praised the government’s consultations on the issue of mandatory retirement. "The Ministry’s initiative is a welcome step in the right direction. Older workers should be judged on their ability to perform a job, and not have to leave their work just because they reach a certain age," stated Chief Commissioner Keith Norton.

Commission to implement new self-draft complaint process

September 29, 2004

Toronto - Beginning this October 1st, the Ontario Human Rights Commission will implement a new process for self-drafting of human rights complaints. Under the old process, complainants were required to fill out a 7-page questionnaire in order to file a complaint. Close to 50% of the intake questionnaires sent to complainants were never returned. In the new self drafting process, individuals will be asked to provide the particulars of their allegations directly onto a 4-page complaint form. This new approach will speed up the processing of complaints and give individuals more control over their complaint.

Statement by Chief Commissioner Keith C. Norton regarding the implementation of self-drafted complaints at the Ontario Human Rights Commission

September 1, 2004

Toronto - This October, the Ontario Human Rights Commission will be implementing a new process for self-drafted human rights complaints. I am taking this opportunity to explain the background for this decision, why it is being implemented and what it entails.

Commission restates concerns about potential discrimination arising from Ontario's "Safe Schools Act"

May 14, 2004

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission has asked the Toronto District School Board and Ontario’s Ministry of Education to recognize that "zero tolerance" disciplinary legislation and related school board policies may be having a discriminatory effect on racialized students and students with disabilities.

Seven restaurant chains make landmark commitment to improve services for customers with disabilities

April 6, 2004

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today announced that seven chains, Country Style Donuts, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Subway, Swiss Chalet and Tim Hortons have made commitments to a process that will eliminate barriers for customers with disabilities. This result was obtained after the Commission shared the results of an independent accessibility audit with the chains.

Ontario Human Rights Commission sends 121 complaints to public

March 2, 2004

Toronto - At its meeting on January 28, 2004, the Commission decided to refer an unprecedented 121 autism-related complaints to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The complaints against various Government of Ontario ministries allege discrimination on the basis of disability in accessing services. The Commission has referred the complaints based on the restrictive eligibility criteria for funding support and long waiting lists for a government program.

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