Ontario’s human rights system faces challenges unprecedented in our history. Across the province, our communities are changing. New groups are arriving in what were once homogeneous areas; the population is aging; there is a much greater awareness of the rights and needs of people with disabilities and a greater awareness of social justice issues in general, although much remains to be done.
Ontario must build a culture of human rights by creating a culture of inclusion, where everyone is treated as a valuable contributor to their community. When people feel excluded they may find it more difficult to contribute. Being inclusive builds and strengthens communities.
The OHRC is uniquely positioned to identify human rights issues, bring partners together, develop, facilitate and monitor solutions, and when necessary, intervene to enforce rights and obligations. No other Ontario agency is so clearly charged with the task of eliminating discriminatory practices.
Quick fixes do not solve systemic problems. It takes time to change attitudes and raise awareness – but it can be done. For example - until recently, racial profiling was considered acceptable; now, thanks in large part to the OHRC’s initiatives in this area, racial profiling is understood to be discriminatory, divisive and harmful.
Our aim, as we work towards a culture of human rights in Ontario, is to help people and institutions across Ontario’s diverse communities appreciate and celebrate differences and learn how to accommodate sometimes-conflicting needs.
Our role is to bring parties together to break down the stereotypes which so often pose barriers to understanding and progress, and take responsibility for respecting, protecting, promoting and fulfilling human rights for everyone in Ontario.