June 21st is important but the years of work and recent report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission make it painfully clear that one day is not enough.
The decision by the Toronto Police Services Board to return to its April 2014 policy on Community Contacts is a step forward - here’s why.
We were encouraged this week to hear Ontario’s Solicitor General and Minister for Community Safety and Correctional Services announce plans to regulate police street checks across Ontario.
The Minister was clear about what he wants: “to prevent unjustifiable police stops for no reason or without cause”. HOW to do this will be the difficult part – but ending “unjustifiable police stops” that amount to racial profiling is our goal.
Toronto –The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released OHRC Today, its 2014-2015 Annual Report, which focuses on mental health disabilities and addictions, bias-free policing and its work across Ontario on gender identity and gender expression issues.
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission is seeking leave to intervene as a friend of the Court in the “Neptune 4” case, being heard by the Toronto Police Service Disciplinary Tribunal. The action is part of a longstanding effort by the OHRC to tackle racial profiling – an issue at the heart of the Commission’s mandate to promote and advance respect for human rights in Ontario.
Dear Minister, The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes your Ministry’s consideration of legislating standards set out in the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police 2014 Guideline for Police Record Checks.
We agree there is a lack of consistency with the various levels of record checks and their purposes, as well as the types of information disclosed. The OHRC has raised concern for a while now that police record checks have a negative impact on people with mental health disabilities who have non-criminal contact with police. That’s why we got involved in the development of the first OACP Guideline and endorsed its release in 2011.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is pleased to mark Sexual Harassment Awareness Week. Sexual harassment continues to be a critical issue across Ontario society. Recent news coverage of incidents affecting female reporters while on the job highlights the pervasiveness of the problem for women at work. The OHRC has long recognized the serious impact of sexual harassment on its victims, and on an organization’s morale and overall productivity.
Toronto - Several news outlets have recently quoted a Toronto Police Service (TPS) news release regarding body-worn cameras: http://torontopolice.on.ca/newsreleases/31840
That release says, in part:
The Service has partnered with the Information & Privacy Commissioner, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Toronto Police Association to develop a procedure that addresses issues of privacy, retention, and disclosure.
This statement is not accurate.
Editor, The Toronto Star
This week Mark Saunders was sworn in as Chief of the Toronto Police Service. He arrived amid a controversy that marred his predecessor’s final days and one that refuses to go away – the police procedure commonly known as “carding.” As Chief Saunders starts down this new road he has a choice – to hear the voices of the community and work to end racial profiling or to allow a deeply troubling practice to continue.
Toronto2015: Let’s build an accessibility legacy
The upcoming Pan Am and Parapan Am Games are an exciting opportunity to showcase the many ways Ontario is a world leader. One notable accomplishment should be our ability to welcome and include guests and residents of all backgrounds and abilities. The Games offer a good opportunity to raise awareness about what Ontario and its municipalities are doing to promote and enhance accessibility.
Dear Chief Blair,
I am writing further to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) deputation to the Toronto Police Service Board (TPSB) on April 2, 2015 in regards to the revised Policy and Procedure on Community Engagements.
You will recall, at the TPSB meeting on April 2, 2015, I said on behalf of the OHRC:
Racial profiling by the Toronto Police Service is a recognized problem in need of an effective solution. I am very disappointed that what appeared to be progress, in the Board’s 2014 policy, has failed to materialize.
Not just today – let’s challenge racism every day
It’s easy to identify discrimination when we hear hateful slurs or overt forms of bigotry. However, there are also many examples of more subtle – but equally pernicious – racism and racial discrimination.
There’s the judge who asks a Black woman in court where her lawyer is. In fact, the woman is the lawyer waiting for her client.
A Middle Eastern woman takes a seat at an empty restaurant. A White customer who enters after her is served first.
Forty years ago, the United Nations declared March 8 as International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate women and their achievements, reflect on the progress towards equality, and promote an Ontario and world where there is true gender equality.
While we join the world in observing this day and honouring our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, allies and friends, we know that we still have work to do at the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Our work is not done when one in two Canadian women report having experienced some form of violence in their lifetime.
Racial profiling is a longstanding and deeply troubling concern of the African Canadian community, other affected racialized communities, and of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “OHRC”). In the past few years, many racialized people have experienced carding as yet another form of racial profiling.
The OHRC has frequently identified two key issues in the Toronto Police Service Procedure on Community Engagements that are critical to prevent racial profiling. To be consistent with the Human Rights Code and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Procedure:
Dear Colleagues, As new and returning mayors, councillors and elected officials, you play a central role in ensuring that municipal processes and decisions respect the human rights of all community members. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has worked for several years with governments, experts and community partners to increase human rights compliance in housing, land use and licensing. I’m writing to share some positive developments in these areas, and to point out some OHRC resources that can help you make your community more inclusive.
Re: Accounting professions legislation
It has come to the attention of the Ontario Human Rights Commission that the Ontario Government is looking at making changes to the statutes dealing with the Certified Management Accountants of Ontario, the Certified General Accountants Association of Ontario and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in recognition that these bodies have effectively unified under the banner Chartered Professional Accountants.
Nathalie Prouvez, Chief
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Dear Ms Prouvez,
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the opportunity to provide input into your study on the right to participation in political and public affairs, as enshrined in article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in other international human rights treaties.
In 1948, before Ontario’s Human Rights Code came to life, Hugh Burnett launched the National Unity Association in Dresden – the home of Uncle Tom’s cabin. Racial discrimination was commonplace during that era, with restaurants refusing to serve Black clients. Activists – people like Burnett, Donna Hill, Ruth Lor Malloy and Bromley Armstrong – led efforts to create anti-discrimination laws and advance human rights in our province.
Dear Minister, Please find attached is the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) submission in response to the 2014 review of the Child and Family Services Act.
The Government of Ontario has taken another important step in its work to remove barriers and advance the human rights of transgender people. The OHRC welcomes Ontario’s new procedures and forms allowing for changing sex designation on the birth registration of minors.
It has come to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s attention that employers in Ontario are hiring almost exclusively men to work on their farms as part of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). Research shows us that each year, less than 4% of the workers that come to Ontario through the SAWP are women.
Recent events have triggered a nationwide discussion about the continued occurrence of sexual harassment and violence against women throughout Canadian society. Sexual harassment is against the law. The Ontario Human Rights Code Code prohibits sexual harassment in employment (and in services, housing, and other “social areas”).
October 31, 2014 - Dear Ms Leilani Farha, The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission in response to your survey regarding the responsibilities of sub-national governments with respect to the right to adequate housing.
Please find attached the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) letter to Hon. Kathleen Wynne regarding sexual and gender-based harassment in employment.
Toronto – The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released an updated version of its Policy on preventing discrimination because of pregnancy and breastfeeding in an eLaunch today.
An hour-long webinar – available at www.ohrc.on.ca – provides an overview of the policy, offers a Q&A opportunity, and features several speakers.
For immediate release
Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) today released its 2013-2014 Annual Report.
Commenting on her final report before stepping down as OHRC Chief Commissioner this November, Barbara Hall said, “Our annual report provides a snapshot of the Commission’s efforts over the last 12 months to create real change and advance human rights in Ontario, with the help of partners across the province.”
Chief Paul Cook
President, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police
Dear Chief Cook,
On behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), I would like to congratulate the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) for its updated version of the LEARN Guideline for Police Record Checks with a clearer presumption against disclosure of non-conviction records.
Please find attached the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) submission in response to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s (CPSO) review of its policy on Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The OHRC supports the recommendations of the report released yesterday by the Honourable Frank Iacobucci.
As we said in our report on Police use of Force and Mental Health, “the challenge will be to put recommendations into action – and the time to do that is now.”
Toronto – The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) took another step to eliminate racial profiling in Ontario by speaking out in the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) systemic review of the OPP practices for obtaining voluntary DNA samples. The OHRC is troubled by allegations that the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) engaged in racial profiling when requesting DNA samples from migrant workers near Vienna, Ontario as part of a sexual assault investigation in October and November 2013.
Chief Administrative Officer, City of Thorold
Dear Mr. Fabiano,
I am writing in response to your request for advice regarding the issue raised by people of Aboriginal heritage in your community who find objectionable the current Black Hawk warrior image used by local hockey teams and their associations in Thorold, Ontario.
Dear Dean Moran, Please find attached the submission of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) regarding the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) 2013-14 Legislative Review.
For immediate release
Toronto – A new policy, released today, aims to provide user-friendly guidance on how to define, assess, handle and resolve human rights issues related to mental health and addiction disabilities. The Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions was released by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC).
Re: Report PG 33.2, “Amendments for all Zoning By-laws Group Home Separation and Occupant Numbers"
I am writing in support of the steps that are recommended in Report no. 14-29 – that instead of putting a licensing system in place for rental housing, the City of Guelph use existing bylaws to deal with property concerns. Licensing can be a good tool if its focus is on Building Code, Fire Code and health and safety standards, but it is not an appropriate option for dealing with the actions of the people who may live in the housing. This is why we concur with the report’s recommendation to expand existing programs to target the actual problem areas, without adding an extra cost to tenants across the City.
I was delighted to see the prompt response of Mayor Susan Fennell and other community leaders to the anti-immigration flyer. At the Ontario Human Rights Commission an important part of our work is helping communities deal with issues of tension and conflict. But we know that the most effective answer to people who would try to create division between us is to unite in opposing such efforts. Speaking out strongly in favour of respect and inclusion helps make us all stronger. Well done, Brampton!
We thank the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) for listening to concerns raised by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and other advocacy and community groups in previous deputations. In particular, we acknowledge that the TPSB has set out a definition of public safety as well as disciplinary measures in the event that the policy is breached.
However, we have concerns about the policy as drafted, including those described below.
Toronto – The Ontario Human Rights Commission today launched a new policy to help protect the rights of trans individuals and people of diverse genders. The Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression looks at how to remove barriers and eliminate discrimination.
The Toronto Police Services Board’s Draft Policy is an important step in its efforts to monitor and oversee reforms to the current approach to Community Contacts. The Draft Policy refers to important principles including disengagement, rights knowledge, and compliance with the Human Rights Code and the Charter. We agree that surveys to gauge public satisfaction regarding street checks, and data collection in a separate database to monitor for racial bias in street checks, are valuable.
In 2011, four individuals and the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation filed an application against the Attorney General of Canada and the Attorney General of Ontario. The application alleged that Canada and Ontario have violated their rights under sections 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by creating and maintaining conditions that lead to and sustain homelessness and inadequate housing.
The OHRC provided guidance to the Township of Scugog about human rights principles relating to housing, as they considered amendments to their Zoning Bylaw relating to co-owned housing geared toward older Ontarians and people with disabilities. Following input from the community and the OHRC, the Township’s decision was to not create a special category, but treat the housing the same as any other residential housing.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is releasing a public statement (attached) clarifying the legitimate status of preferential employment and contracting provisions within Impact and Benefit Agreements (IBAs) under Ontario’s Human Rights Code (the Code). Our position is that the preferential employment and contracting provisions in IBAs are consistent with “special programs” under section 14 of the Code.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission today called on the Government of Ontario, police services and others to implement the Coroner’s inquest recommendations into the deaths of Reyal Jardine-Douglas, Sylvia Klibingaitis, and Michael Eligon.
I understand that the issue of a councillor, or other people, breastfeeding at Oshawa City Council chambers may be considered by Council. The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on Discrimination Because of Pregnancy and Breastfeeding contains our interpretation of the provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code relating to pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Recent references to a transgender person in a column and in letters to the editor are of concern to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, because they advance some common misinformation that has caused serious harm to the transgender community.
Thank you for receiving the Commission’s deputation on racial profiling and carding on November 18, 2013. We understand that the Toronto Police Services Board (the TPSB”) has retained Frank Addario to provide an independent legal opinion on carding, and that he has a broad mandate to look at “the entire process of interactions between police officers and members of the public”.
Thank you for this opportunity to provide our comments to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s Land Use Planning and Appeal System Review. Please find attached the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s written submission.
Toronto - In recognition of the U.N. International Human Rights Day, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) today released a new and Improved edition of its popular school package entitled, Teaching Human Rights in Ontario (THRIO). This edition focuses on Ontario’s Human Rights Code, its human rights system, and most recent developments in human rights policy and case law.
Lodging houses are an important form of affordable housing for many vulnerable groups identified by Human Rights Code grounds, including residents who receive public assistance, racialized persons, people with disabilities, newcomers, older and younger people, and single women. For this reason, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) offers the following comments on the proposed lodging house licensing bylaw and the accompanying zoning bylaw amendment.