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June 15 marks 50 years for Ontario’s Human Rights Code

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June 11, 2012

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TorontoJune 15 is the 50th anniversary of Ontario’s Human Rights Code – the first such code in Canada. To mark this important event, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the OHRC) is working with partners across Ontario to look back at human rights over the 50 years, and look ahead to the human rights of tomorrow. Highlights include a commemorative plaque and the “Proclamation Project” with municipalities across Ontario.

Municipalities play a critical role in nurturing human rights and creating equitable environments where everyone is included in work and services, and can enjoy the benefits of their community. That’s why we invited every municipality in Ontario to proclaim June 11 – 15 as Ontario Human Rights Code Week, or June 15 as Ontario Human Rights Code Day. Proclaiming the day or the week gives them an opportunity to encourage all residents to think about how far we have come in 50 years, and where we still need to go.

The response has been overwhelming with more than 80 municipalities proclaiming either the day or week. As well, several municipalities that do not make official proclamations will discuss the anniversary at council meetings.

“Municipalities provide direct services that affect people’s lives in their homes and communities, so they are often the first level of government to see barriers or discrimination,” said OHRC Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall. “By celebrating this anniversary, they all celebrate the important role they have played along this historic road.”

The OHRC has also worked with the Ontario Heritage Trust to create a commemorative plaque, which will be unveiled on Friday, June 15, at 1:30 p.m. at Hart House, University of Toronto. Many people who have made significant contributions to human rights in Ontario have been invited as special guests.

Proclaimed in 1962, the first Code prohibited discrimination in signs, services, facilities, public accommodation, employee and trade union membership because of race, creed, colour, nationality, ancestry and place of origin. In the following half-century, the Code has added more prohibited grounds of discrimination, such as age, disability and sexual orientation, and it now includes systemic discrimination, something that was not considered in the early days. 


For further information:

Afroze Edwards
Senior Communications Officer
Ontario Human Rights Commission