For immediate publication
Toronto - A pilot project, aimed at speeding up the way complaints are processed, is underway at the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
“We are building on our success with mediation and conciliation,” remarked Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall. “Parties from both sides of a complaint will have an opportunity to be heard earlier, and have their cases resolved or decided more quickly.”
The changes being tested call for more rigorous timelines and participation by all parties. The parties will be given set dates to attend mediation, and if no settlement is reached, or if they are unwilling to attempt early resolution, a fact-finding meeting will then take place, on average within six months of filing of a complaint.
“We want the process to be more straightforward,” said the Chief Commissioner. “All parties should have a clear understanding of the timelines and their responsibilities”.
Parties will need to collect and produce all documents and evidence identified by the Commission for the fact-finding meeting. Commission staff can then quickly determine whether further investigation is required to ensure Commissioners have the necessary information to make their decision.
When a party does not attend a fact-finding meeting or does not provide requested documents without a sufficient explanation, the complaint could be referred to the Commission for decision with no further notice to the party.
These changes will also help the Commission address older complaints and reduce its caseload. By bringing parties together there is a stronger chance of reaching a resolution.
The Commission will be holding three public sessions to share the details of this pilot project on April 2, 2007. The times of the sessions are: 10:00 a.m. to 12 Noon, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. All sessions will be held in the Superior Room, MacDonald Block, 900 Bay Street, Toronto.