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Ontario human rights commission initiates review of province's human rights system

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August 23, 2005

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For immediate publication

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.

“For a number of years now, I have publicly stated that the Commission is reaching a critical point in its ability to function effectively,” remarked Mr. Norton. “Without either an increase in financial resources or legislative amendments, I am concerned that the Commission risks losing some or all of what it has worked hard to accomplish these past ten years in both compliance and promotion of human rights.”

“I believe that an effective human rights system should have the input and confidence of stakeholders and the broader public,” Norton continued. “I welcome the Attorney General’s commitment to develop a blueprint for reform by winter. I believe that our review, pursuant to section 29 of the Code, will assist him in this process.”

The Commission has prepared a Discussion Paper called Reviewing Ontario’s Human Rights System that outlines United Nations’ principles and standards for effective human rights systems. The paper establishes a frame of reference for the Commission’s review and reinforces the notion that any proposed reform must consider the system as a whole.

In September the Commission has planned focus groups with selected stakeholders from various sectors who can bring a range of perspectives to the discussion. The review will also include a questionnaire for public input, which will be posted on the Commission’s Web site from August 23, 2005 through September 16, 2005. A public report on the results of the review will be published later in the fall.

For a copy of the Discussion Paper and further information concerning the Commission’s review of Ontario’s human rights system, please visit the Commission’s Web site.

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

Jeff Poirier
Senior Policy Analyst
Policy Education, Monitoring and Outreach Branch (PEMO)
Ontario Human Rights Commission