The Ontario Human Rights Commission has serious concerns about the degree to which people with mental health disabilities experience discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, and services. Discriminating against someone because they have a mental health disability or addiction is a violation of Ontario’s Human Rights Code.
For this reason, we have identified mental health as a key priority and consulted with the community to develop a human rights and mental health plan to guide our activities. We have also published a new section on our website that brings together information on human rights and mental health in Ontario. This resource outlines the OHRC’s mental health plan, explains the rights of persons with mental health disabilities and addictions, and includes tips on how employers, housing and service providers can meet their responsibilities under the Code, including the duty to accommodate.
“Negative societal attitudes and systemic inequalities like poverty, and lack of access to treatment and services create barriers for people with mental health disabilities, particularly when they try to find work or a place to live.” Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall said. “The Commission is committed to working with its partners and members of the community to get rid of this discrimination.”
In addition to our consultation, the OHRC has made submissions to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care on their ten year mental health strategy, and we are building a partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. We have litigated cases at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to protect the rights of people with mental health disabilities and addictions, and worked with community groups and police on the issue of police record checks that can result in discrimination against people apprehended under the Mental Health Act.
As part of our mental health plan, the OHRC will release a Policy on human rights and mental health in the Fall of 2011.