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Legal

The OHRC uses targeted legal action, including Public Interest Inquiries, to advance an expansive interpretation of the Code, establish important precedents that adopt OHRC policies, promote broader public change, and pursue public interest remedies. Some of our most recent case work can be found below. Each Annual Report also reviews the past year’s legal work.

The OHRC's Litigation and inquiry strategy sets out when and how the OHRC decides to conduct an inquiry or take an application to the Human Rights Tribunal or when to intervene in a legal proceeding. 

To request a Commission initiated-application, inquiry or intervention, contact legal@ohrc.on.ca

See our Litigation and Inquiry Strategy for more information about OHRC legal action.

  1. Case summaries

    From: Discussion paper: Human rights issues in insurance

    (Extracts from CHRR)

    Discriminatory auto insurance rates allowed for bona fide reasons

    Zurich Insurance Co. v. Ontario (Human Rights Comm.)

    The majority of the Supreme Court of Canada finds that Zurich Insurance did not discriminate against Michael Bates contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code by charging him higher premiums for automobile insurance because of his age, sex, and marital status.

  2. MacConnell v. Ontario (Community and Social Services) Special Diets case – judicial review allowed

    September 2014 - The Divisional Court has allowed an application for judicial review, heard on September 16, brought by the applicants and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), of a decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) denying special diet benefits to Joanne MacConnell.

  3. Human rights obligations related to pregnancy and breastfeeding: Case law review

    October 2014 - This case law review looks at important developments in the law dealing with discrimination based on pregnancy and breastfeeding between 2008 and January 2014.[1] The discussion of the law in Ontario is intended as a resource, to be read along with the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on Preventing Discrimination because of Pregnancy and Breastfeeding (the Policy)[2], about the rights of women[3] who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, who have had a baby or who are breastfeeding. However, it is not legal advice.

  4. Appendices

    From: Consultation report: Human rights issues in insurance

    List of Acronyms

    Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA)

    Canadian Loss Experience Rating System (CLEAR)

    Canadian Standards Association (CSA)

    Coalition for Fair and Just Treatment of Ontarians (CFJTO)

    Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO)

    HIV-AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario (HALCO)

    Independent Financial Brokers of Canada (IFBC)
    (Formerly the Independent Life Insurance Brokers of Canada and the Independent Financial Services Brokers of Canada)

    Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC)

  5. The move towards an intersectional approach

    From: An intersectional approach to discrimination: Addressing multiple grounds in human rights claims

    Multiple grounds in equality and human rights jurisprudence

    Some courts and tribunals have started to acknowledge the need to make special provision for discrimination based on multiple grounds and to recognize the social, economic and historical context in which it takes place. However, despite these advancements, the courts’ understanding of a proper intersectional approach is still in its infancy. What follows is a discussion of recent cases in which a move towards a multiple grounds or intersectional analysis is evidenced in either a majority or dissenting opinion.

  6. Setting new standards for defining discrimination

    From: Annual Report 2010-2011: Looking back, moving forward

    Preventing discrimination is at the heart of the Ontario Human Rights Code. The courts and tribunals continue to clarify what this means. One example is a landmark ruling in September 2010.

    In Tranchemontagne v. the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that two alcoholics were entitled to disability benefits. This case looked at what constituted discrimination in human rights law.

  7. Appendix F: Table of cases

    From: Policy on competing human rights

    Adler v. Ontario, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 609

    Alberta v. Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony, 2009 SCC 37

    Assn. of Justices of the Peace of Ontario v. Ontario (Attorney General) (2008), 92 O.R. (3d) 16

    B. (R.) v. Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto, [1995] 1 S.C.R. 315

    Bothwell v. Ontario (Minister of Transportation), 2005 CanLII 1066 (ON S.C.D.C.)

    Bou Malhab v. Diffusion Métromédia CMR Inc., [2011] 1 S.C.R. 214

  8. Public interest inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination by the Toronto Police Service

    November 30, 2017 - the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) announced that it has launched a public interest inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination by the Toronto Police Service (TPS). Using its legislated inquiry powers under section 31 of Ontario’s Human Rights Code, the OHRC has called for the TPS, the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) and the Special Investigations Unit to provide a wide range of data to determine exactly how and where racial profiling operates in law enforcement.

  9. Preliminary findings: Inquiry into assaults on Asian Canadian Anglers

    December 2007 - During the summer and fall of 2007, there were reports of a series of incidents across southern and central Ontario in which Asian Canadian anglers were physically or verbally assaulted. Racial slurs were associated with a number of these incidents. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (“the Commission”) was gravely concerned by these reports.
  10. Racial profiling inquiry: Objectives (fact sheet)

    December 2003 - The Commission’s racial profiling inquiry initiative was undertaken in response to community concerns about the impact of profiling on members of their respective communities. The inquiry’s main objectives were to give individuals who had been subjected to profiling an opportunity to share those experiences and to show its effects on their families and communities. In doing so, the Commission hoped to raise public awareness of the harmful effects and the social costs of racial profiling.

  11. Racial profiling inquiry: Background and process

    December 2003 - The Report wraps up the Commission’s inquiry initiative by relating what the Commission heard and providing an analysis of the effects of profiling on more than just the individuals and communities most likely to experience it. The Report also analyzes the detrimental impact that profiling is having on societal institutions such as the education system, law enforcement agencies, service providers, etc., and providers, etc., and provides recommendations for bringing an end to this practice.

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