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Policies and guidelines

Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions

June 2014 - The OHRC’s Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions is intended to provide clear, user-friendly guidance on how to assess, handle and resolve human rights matters related to mental health and/or addictions. All of society benefits when people with mental health or addiction disabilities are given equal opportunity to take part at all levels.

Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression

April 2014 - People who are transgender, or gender non-conforming, come from all walks of life. Yet they are one of the most disadvantaged groups in society. Trans people routinely experience discrimination, harassment and even violence because their gender identity or gender expression is different from their birth-assigned sex. Under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) people are protected from discrimination and harassment because of gender identity and gender expression in employment, housing, facilities and services, contracts, and membership in unions, trade or professional associations.

Policy on Removing the “Canadian experience” barrier

July 2013 - While the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recognizes the significance of all of the barriers newcomers potentially face when trying to access the job market, this policy will focus on “Canadian experience” as an employment or accreditation requirement, and as a practice that raises human rights concerns. The OHRC’s position is that a strict requirement for “Canadian experience” is prima facie discrimination (discrimination on its face) and can only be used in very limited circumstances. The onus will be on employers and regulatory bodies to show that a requirement for prior work experience in Canada is a bona fide requirement, based on the legal test this policy sets out.

Policy on preventing sexual and gender-based harassment

May 2013 - Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based on sex. The Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) prohibits all forms of discrimination based on sex, and includes provisions that focus on sexual harassment. The principles set out in this policy will, depending on the circumstances, apply to instances of sexual harassment in any of the social areas covered by the Code. However, to reflect the most important recent developments in the law and in social science research, this policy will focus on the areas of employment, housing and education.

Policy on competing human rights

April 2012 - The main goal of this policy is to provide clear, user-friendly guidance to organizations, policy makers, litigants, adjudicators and others on how to assess, handle and resolve competing rights claims. The policy will help various sectors, organizations and individuals deal with everyday situations of competing rights, and avoid the time and expense of bringing a legal challenge before a court or human rights decision-maker. It sets out a process, based in existing case law, to analyze and reconcile competing rights. This process is flexible and can apply to any competing rights claim under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, provincial or federal human rights legislation or another legislative scheme.

Policy on human rights and rental housing

July 2009 - The Policy sets out the OHRC’s position on discrimination in the area of rental housing as it relates to the provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code), and to Canada’s international human rights obligations. It deals primarily with issues that fall within the Code and could be the subject of a human rights claim. At the same time, the Policy interprets the protections of the Code in a broad and purposive manner. This approach is consistent with the principle that the Code’s quasi-constitutional status requires that it be given a liberal interpretation that best ensures its anti-discriminatory goals are reached.

Policy on discrimination because of pregnancy and breastfeeding

December 2008 - The Policy examines the different ways in which women experience discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Discrimination may take place in employment, in housing accommodation, or in the receipt of services, goods and facilities. Discriminatory behaviour may be rooted in negative attitudes and stereotypes. It may be direct, or it may be subtle. It may be systemic or institutional. It may arise out of a failure to accommodate the needs of a woman relating to pregnancy or breastfeeding. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may also experience harassment and poisoned environments where they work, live or where they receive services.

Policy and guidelines on discrimination because of family status

March 2007 - This Policy sets out the Commission’s position on discrimination on the basis of family status as it relates to the provisions of the Code. It deals only with issues that fall within the Code and that could be the subject of a human rights complaint. At the same time, the Policy interprets the protections of the Code in a broad and purposive manner, consistent with the principle that the quasi-constitutional status of the Code requires that it be given a liberal interpretation that best ensures its anti-discriminatory goals are attained. The Commission’s Consultation Report contains a broader examination of social policy issues affecting persons disadvantaged by family status.

Policy and guidelines on racism and racial discrimination

June 2005 - This policy sets out the OHRC’s position on racism, racial discrimination and racial harassment, at the time of publication. It replaces the OHRC’s 1996 Policy on Racial Slurs and Harassment and Racial Jokes. It deals with issues that fall within the OHRC’s jurisdiction and which can form the subject matter of an application to the Tribunal. The policy is therefore bounded by the provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code and Canada’s legal framework for analyzing discrimination. At the same time, the policy interprets the protections in the Code in a broad and purposive manner.

Guidelines on accessible education

September 2004- The Guidelines take key principles from the OHRC’s Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate (“Disability Policy”) and apply them to the educational context. They are intended to provide guidance to support education providers and students with disabilities in the fulfilment of their duties and rights under the Code.

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