Toronto - I wish to express my profound dismay at your Government’s notice to invoke closure and prematurely end debate on Bill 107, An Act to Reform the Ontario Human Rights Act. From the start of the Bill 107 process, more than a year ago, the Commission has commented on the need for full consultation by the Ministry of the Attorney General. What should have been a broad, consensus-building exercise in the best traditions of promoting human rights, was undertaken in a way which, instead, caused division within the communities concerned.
I am pleased to be with you this morning and to bring you the view of the Commission on Bill 107 and its implications for the Human Rights System in Ontario. I anticipate that over the next few days and weeks you will hear many considered and informed opinions about the proposed legislation.
Equal access by persons with disabilities, older Ontarians, and families with young children to adequate, dignified public transit services is a right protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code. For many, it is also a necessity – in order to obtain an education, find and keep a job, or use basic public services like health care. Lack of access to transit may also lead to isolation, as visiting friends or participating in the life of the community becomes difficult or impossible. Unfortunately, equal access to transit services is far from reality for many Ontarians.
Toronto - Ministry of the Attorney General: News Release
The Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCU) is calling for a Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism. This draft Preliminary Proposal for a coalition has been prepared by a Pan-Canadian Working Group lead by CCU. It is based on UNESCO’s initiative for an international coalition of cities against racism. The OHRC has lent its expertise and support to the CCU in developing the preliminary proposal.
Toronto - A recent settlement negotiated by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) guarantees equality between female and male doctors seeking parental leave benefits from their employers, Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall announced today.
Toronto - Ontario Human Rights Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall was invited to chair a number of sessions at the XVI International AIDS 2006 Conference, including two conference seminars held earlier this week on Hot Topics in Human Rights and HIV/AIDS and Time to Deliver on Stigma and Discrimination.
Toronto - The Ontario Court of Appeal will issue its decision in Wynberg et al. v. Ontario, a case involving government funding of Intensive Behavioural Intervention services (IBI) for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the "Commission") was joined by representatives of the business, government, and disability communities today while releasing Moving Towards Barrier-Free Services, the Commission’s final report into restaurant accessibility. This report demonstrates the progress that can be achieved through cooperation between government and business, but also emphasizes the need for ongoing improvement.
Toronto - On releasing the Commission’s 2005-2006 Annual Report today at Queen’s Park, Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall commented that, “This is a pivotal time for human rights in our province.” The Chief Commissioner highlighted a number of issues where progress is being made as well as areas where more work needs to be done to protect and promote human rights for the people of Ontario.
Toronto - Over the past ten years, the Commission has been involved in 72 judicial review decisions, 32 decisions on appeal at the Divisional Court, 40 decisions from the Court of Appeal, and 17 from the Supreme Court of Canada. As of March 31, 2006, the Commission was litigating 462 cases at the Tribunal, eight cases before the Divisional Court, three in the Ontario Court of Appeal, and two before the Supreme Court of Canada.
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.
Toronto - A decision concerning the treatment of transsexual persons detained by police was issued by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario on Tuesday, May 16, 2006. The complainant’s case was referred and argued by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
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.
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.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) has initiated a complaint against Goldcorp Inc. (“Goldcorp”), alleging that sections of the company’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy violate the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”).
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.
Toronto - The Supreme Court of Canada released a far-reaching decision declaring that the Ontario Social Benefits Tribunal has the authority to decide whether a section of the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997 (the “ODSPA”) breaches the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”).
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.
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.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission has released an independent research paper on balancing conflicting human rights. Written for the Commission by an external researcher, this paper was prepared as a first step to explore different views and broaden understanding of issues surrounding this topic.
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.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) has released an updated version of its Policy on Discrimination and Harassment because of Sexual Orientation, Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall announced today.
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.
Toronto - The Supreme Court of Canada released its unanimous decision today in the case of Multani v. Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys. The Court found in favour of Multani, ruling that his religious rights had been infringed.
Toronto - In a decision released on January 18th, 2006, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled that the Ottawa Chinese Senior Association discriminated when it terminated the membership of one of its members because she practises Falun Gong.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) has adopted a new Extension Procedure that will standardize its processes and responses to requests for extensions in submitting responses to a Case Analysis or Disclosure Letter under Sections 34, 36 or 37 of the Code.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) celebrates International Human Rights Day today with a reception for stakeholders hosted by Barbara Hall, the Commission’s new Chief Commissioner.
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.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission has reached a positive settlement in a human rights complaint involving the former Board of Education for the City of Scarborough, which merged with other school boards in 1998 to form the current Toronto District School Board (“the Board”).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’).
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today called on government, non-governmental organizations, and individuals interested in human rights to participate in a review of the province’s human rights system to determine how it can be made stronger and more effective.
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today released his 2004-2005 Annual Report marking the near completion of his final term as head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission began a consultation on human rights and family status today with the release of a Discussion Paper called, Human Rights and the Family in Ontario.
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.
Toronto - As Black History month comes to a close, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today remarked on a recent Ontario court decision that serves as an important reminder that racial discrimination is still a major concern in our society.
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.
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.
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”).
Toronto - In a statement marking the first anniversary of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s report, Paying the Price: The Human Cost of Racial Profiling, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton noted that a lot of work still needs to be done to address racial profiling.
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.