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Deputation to the Toronto Police Services Board on conducted energy weapons

October 19, 2017

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) makes the following deputation in response to the Toronto Police Service’s (TPS) Discussion Paper in which it proposes to expand the deployment of Conducted Energy Weapons (CEWs) to on-duty primary response unit constables and on-duty constables from designated specialized units.

Mental health disabilities shouldn’t be a barrier to student success

October 12, 2017

Just as students were headed back to school, a vigorous debate was unfolding on the pages of this paper (and others) about the accommodation of students with mental health disabilities. Unfortunately, this debate has been dominated by professors and columnists whose expertise lies outside human rights law and whose opinions do not adequately take into account the lived experience of discrimination.

OHRC calls for government accountability to advance the human rights of prisoners with mental health disabilities

September 26, 2017

Toronto – Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) announced new legal action to advance the human rights of prisoners with mental health disabilities in Ontario’s correctional facilities at a press conference at Queen’s Park.

Opening statement: Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination M-103

September 20, 2017

The Government has the power to take action to protect people who are being harmed by racism and Islamophobia, and we call on it to boldly do so. There is considerable scope for the Government to develop positions, policies and programs that promote inclusion and respect, especially for racial and religious minorities. These types of actions are consistent with the values of Canadians and the Charter.

Coalition issues statement calling for action on Justice Tulloch’s police oversight recommendations

August 16, 2017

Toronto – Today, a coalition of community and advocacy groups, as well as the Ontario Human Rights Commission, issued a joint statement calling on the Government of Ontario and police oversight bodies to immediately implement recommendations of the Honourable Justice Michael Tulloch from his Report of the Independent Police Oversight Review. This statement was prompted by recent events that highlight several police accountability issues that require immediate action.

Leadership needed to fight racism

July 25, 2017

A few months ago, I visited Thunder Bay and had the opportunity to speak with members of the Indigenous community. Community members told me about their concerns related to policing and child welfare, trafficking of Indigenous women and girls, and everyday racism in almost every facet of their lives including employment, housing, healthcare and retail. Most strikingly, people talked about being “garbaged” – literally having garbage thrown at them while walking down the street, all because of their Indigenous ancestry. I brought these concerns to the leaders that I met later in the day, including the Mayor and police.

Together the OHRC and the OFIFC take steps towards reconciliation

July 10, 2017

LONDON – On July 8, 2017, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) signed an agreement with the ultimate goal of ending anti-Indigenous discrimination in Ontario. This agreement sets the stage for future collaboration with urban Indigenous communities that is based on trust, dignity, respect, and a shared commitment to reconciliation and substantive equality.

OHRC’s annual report emphasizes bold action

June 30, 2017

Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission launched A bold voice, its 2016-2017 Annual Report. This report highlights the OHRC’s work and the results we are seeing. Over the past year, the OHRC has successfully put people’s human rights at the centre of public conversations and policy-making, and advanced evidence-based and practical solutions to tackle the discrimination marginalized and vulnerable people continue to face.

OHRC settlement with the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care: A step towards respecting the human rights of diverse patients

June 28, 2017

Toronto – After intervening in the case of The Estate of Kulmiye Aganeh v. Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the OHRC has reached a settlement with the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care (formerly known as Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene).

Ottawa’s solitary bill is a start. Now the provinces must do better

June 21, 2017

On Monday, the federal government introduced Bill C-56, which would impose a 21-day limit for “administrative segregation” (this will be decreased to 15 days after the legislation is in operation for 18 months). Where prison authorities propose to keep a person in segregation beyond these time limits, the case would be referred to an independent external reviewer to make recommendations on whether the prisoner should be released or remain in segregation.

Academic accommodation: New OHRC inquiry report on systemic barriers for post-secondary students with mental health disabilities

June 8, 2017

Toronto – Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released With learning in mind, a new inquiry report that describes systemic barriers that students with mental health disabilities experience in post-secondary schools. It also outlines the changes the OHRC called for in college and university policies and programs, and the progress these institutions have made in implementing the changes.

New OHRC report reinforces concerns about racial profiling

May 3, 2017

Toronto - A new report by the OHRC confirms that racial profiling is a daily reality that damages communities and undermines trust in public institutions. In Under suspicion: Research and consultation report on racial profiling in Ontario, the OHRC combines social science research with lived experiences gained through consultation with over 1,600 individuals and organizations.

OHRC settlement opens door to more inclusive Toronto Police Service Memorial Wall

April 20, 2017

Toronto – As a result of a legal settlement between the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), Toronto Police Service (TPS) and Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB), officers who die from mental health injuries – not just physical ones – sustained in the line of duty will have equal opportunity to have their names included on the Toronto Police Service’s Memorial Wall.

Independent Police Oversight Review: OHRC calls for implementation of recommendations and a renewed commitment to address systemic discrimination

April 7, 2017

Toronto – The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has long been concerned with systemic discrimination in policing, which is a lived reality for many Ontarians. The result is mistrust that undermines effective policing and ultimately public safety.

New OHRC report says sexualized dress codes “not on the menu”

March 8, 2017

To coincide with International Women’s Day, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has released a new report that outlines commitments made by many of Ontario’s largest and most well-known restaurant chains to eliminate discriminatory dress codes for restaurant staff. Not on the Menu: Inquiry report on sexual and gender-based dress codes in Ontario’s restaurants outlines findings from an inquiry into dress codes at certain restaurants operating across Ontario.

“Unfounded” – a human rights issue

February 16, 2017

Robyn Doolittle’s ground-breaking investigation “Unfounded” exposes how police services across Canada are “ill-equipped or unwilling to investigate sexual assault cases” with nearly 20% being dismissed as “unfounded.” At one point in the story, Doolittle asks police to explain the disproportionate “unfounded” rates. She is told by the police that the explanation might lie in coding errors or misclassification of cases, but we know that there are more factors at play. With “unfounded” rates of 19% across Canada and as high as nearly 60% in some jurisdictions, part of the answer must also lie in systemic bias against women – which is a human rights issue.

Statement from the Ontario Human Rights Commission on the recent attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City

February 15, 2017

Beyond remorse – to action. It has now been two weeks since the tragic attack on a Quebec City mosque. Many individuals and organizations across Canada properly voiced their outrage, their sorrow and their support for our Muslim neighbours. But there is more to be done – and this is the time to do it. Taking lasting action is the best way to remember and honour the victims. First, we must acknowledge that Islamophobia is real, and is embedded across our society including right here in Ontario.

Deputation to the Ottawa Police Services Board on the Traffic Stop Race Data Collection Project

November 28, 2016

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about the OPS’s Traffic Stop Race Data Collection Project. My deputation will be available online this afternoon, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s full report with our analysis of the findings will be available on our website tomorrow. This project was based on a 2012 settlement between the Ottawa Police Services Board and the Commission, after Chad Aiken, a young Black man, filed a human rights complaint alleging racial profiling.

Letter to the Thunder Bay Police Service and Thunder Bay Police Services Board regarding systemic discrimination and racism

October 27, 2016

Thank you once again for your hospitality and candour. During the meeting, we discussed concerns that leaders and members of the Indigenous community brought to my attention earlier in the day; namely, alleged racism and systemic discrimination within the Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS). We discussed more generally the relationship between the TBPS and Indigenous communities in light of recent events.

Report on race-based data from traffic stops by Ottawa Police Service must lead to action

October 24, 2016

Toronto – Findings from the Ottawa Police Service’s Race Data and Traffic Stops in Ottawa report released today challenge all policing institutions to acknowledge the systemic nature of racial profiling, examine their practices and take action to address racial discrimination.

New OHRC Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability

October 3, 2016

On Thursday, September 29, 2016, Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane launched the OHRC’s Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability. The OHRC introduced its first policy on disability in 2001. Since that time, there have been many important case law developments, new international human rights standards, and evolving social science research.

Hockey Canada’s Ontario branches take important step towards transgender inclusion

September 7, 2016

Toronto — Hockey Canada, through its Ontario branches, ushers in a new era of transgender inclusion in time for the 2016-2017 hockey season by posting transgender inclusive policies. This step is part of a settlement agreement between Hockey Canada, on behalf of its Ontario members, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and Jesse Thompson, a trans teenaged boy who played amateur hockey and courageously decided to take on the system.

Prisoners' Justice Day: Significant barriers to progress remain 42 years later

August 10, 2016

On August 10, 1974, Edward Nolan died by suicide in a segregation cell at Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ontario. Each year on August 10, we commemorate Prisoners' Justice Day to remember Nolan and all of the prisoners who have died in custody, and to renew calls to respect the basic human rights of prisoners housed in jails, correctional centres, and penitentiaries across the country.

National Aboriginal Day: Reflecting on the journey to reconciliation

June 20, 2016

On Canada’s 20th annual National Aboriginal Day, we recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and many contributions of First Nations,Inuit and Métis (Indigenous) peoples. As an arms-length agency of government, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) also sees today as an opportunity to restate our commitment to reconciliation and working alongside Indigenous communities across Ontario.

OHRC calls for reforms to immigrant detention system

April 11, 2016

Dear Minister Naqvi, I am writing today on behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), to express our concern about detention of non-citizens in Ontario jails under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (immigration detainees). 

As you know, in my previous capacity as Executive Director of the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, I was the editor of a 2015 report on immigration detention (http://ihrp.law.utoronto.ca/We_Have_No_Rights).

End segregation, says Ontario Human Rights Commission

March 7, 2016

by Renu Mandhane

In 2007, Ashley Smith died in federal custody in Kitchener, Ont., after spending extended periods of time in segregation (or solitary confinement). In 2010, Edward Snowshoe died by suicide while in custody in Edmonton, Alta., after spending 162 days in segregation. These cases have become emblematic of the incredible problems with the continued use of segregation in prisons.

OHRC letter on the systemic review of police officer mental health and suicide

February 24, 2016

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (Commission) is concerned about the number of officers experiencing mental health issues and dying by suicide as a result of their policing work, and the barriers – such as widespread stigma about mental health issues in the policing community – preventing officers from accessing adequate support. We understand that you are preparing to launch a systemic review to examine the experiences and suicides of Ontario police officers with mental health disabilities, and commend you for working toward addressing this serious problem.

To Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario re: Request for disaggregated data regarding children and youth in Ontario’s child welfare system

February 24, 2016

By way of introduction, I am the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). On December 16, 2015, the OHRC announced that it will use its mandate under the Ontario Human Right Code (Code) to examine the overrepresentation of Indigenous and racialized children and youth in the child welfare system.

OHRC Statement on Ontario’s New Anti-Racism Directorate

February 16, 2016

Toronto – Today, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the establishment of an Anti-Racism Directorate.  The new body will be tasked with providing an anti-racism lens to the development and implementation of government policies, and will also be involved in some aspects of education and promotion. The official announcement is here: bit.ly/20XT3Bz.

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