For immediate publication
Toronto - On the eve of March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Keith Norton said that race discrimination is still an issue for the people of Ontario.
"Race and colour were among the first grounds that appeared in the Ontario Human Rights Code in 1962 and these are still necessary given that race and colour are among the most frequently cited grounds of complaint to the Commission," Mr. Norton said. He added that, "Over the last two years, complaints on the grounds of race and colour made up over a third of all cases going to the Board of Inquiry."
Mr. Norton also pointed out that, "Our work is not limited to the investigation of complaints, we are still very much involved in public education and community outreach." For example, the Commission has entered into a partnership with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to develop a video and study-guide on racism. In addition, the Commission has also partnered with the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians to produce a plain-language version of the Commission's Complainants Guide in six South Asian languages: Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi and Gujarati.
Steps have also been taken to create better ties with Aboriginal peoples. Most recently, the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres and Grand River Employment and Training became Commission partners in a new initiative to introduce a special program to protect the human rights of aboriginal peoples within aboriginal communities. The intent is to enhance awareness among these communities of the protections under the Code and to develop appropriate and culturally-sensitive mechanisms for accessing the Commission's services.
"Our commitment," asserts Chief Commissioner Norton, "is to provide every Ontarian with a life free from discrimination, and our resolve to deliver on this commitment is as strong as ever."
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