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Re: Submission of the Ontario Human Rights Commission on Bill 21, an Act to regulate retirement homes

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May 14, 2010

Mr. Shafiq Qaadri, Chair
Standing Committee on Social Policy
Rm.1405 99 Wellesley Street West
Whitney Block, Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A2

Dear Mr. Qaadri

Thank you for the opportunity to provide our comments on Bill 21 , An Act to regulate retirement homes. The OHRC commends the Ontario Seniors' Secretariat for introducing legislation that, for the first time in Ontario, would lead to regulations to enhance the safety and security of older Ontarians living in these facilities. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) supports the regulation of retirement homes across the province. However, we ask the Committee to consider specific recommendations to amend the Bill to enhance the ability of retirement homes providers to meet their obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code), including:

  • That retirement home providers be required to develop human rights policies and complaint procedures, including procedures on the duty to accommodate, which should include a focus on protecting the rights of people with mental health disabilities and dementia.
  • That retirement home providers be required to provide training to their staff on these policies and procedures.
  • That the Residents' Bill of Rights be amended to reflect the duty to accommodate people's Code-related needs to the point of undue hardship
  • That careful consideration be given to the impact of fees on the ability of lowincome people to obtain housing and receive services in retirement homes.
  • That greater safeguards be put in place with respect to the provisions on restraint and confinement, including outlining people's rights of review and expanding the provision of rights advice
  • That the OHRC be consulted when screening procedures for staff and volunteers are developed, to ensure that the requirements for police mental health background checks will not have an adverse effect on people who have been apprehended under the Mental Health Act.

We welcome further opportunities to work with the Standing Committee on Social Policy and the Seniors' Secretariat to build a system that makes aging a time of equity and dignity for all residents of Ontario.

Yours truly,
Barbara Hall, B.A, LL.B, Ph.D (hon.)
Chief Commissioner