May 2012 - What follows is a discussion of significant legal decisions dealing with religious and creed rights in Canada. The focus is on decisions made since the Commission issued its 1996 Policy on Creed and the Accommodation of religious observances. It does not review every decision, but those that may be important from a human rights perspective. In addition to a description of the case law, trends and areas where it is anticipated the case law will continue to evolve or be clarified are identified. The review will form the basis for further research and dialogue concerning the law in Canada as it relates to this significant area of human rights.
Toronto - Over the past ten years, the Commission has been involved in 72 judicial review decisions, 32 decisions on appeal at the Divisional Court, 40 decisions from the Court of Appeal, and 17 from the Supreme Court of Canada. As of March 31, 2006, the Commission was litigating 462 cases at the Tribunal, eight cases before the Divisional Court, three in the Ontario Court of Appeal, and two before the Supreme Court of Canada.
In general, competing human rights involve situations where parties to a dispute claim that the enjoyment of an individual or group’s human rights and freedoms, as protected by law, would interfere with another’s rights and freedoms. This complicates the normal approach to resolving a human rights dispute where only one side claims a human rights violation. In some cases, only one party is making a human rights claim, but the claim conflicts with the legal entitlements of another party or parties.
Responsibility for housing, either as a Service Manager or as a landlord, also includes a responsibility for human rights. A human rights lens needs to be applied to all housing matters, including the use of tools enabled by legislation.
Municipalities must follow a variety of provincial legislation regulating housing and housing-related issues. Examples are the Residential Tenancies Act and the Housing Services Act. Both of these contain provisions that can help prevent discrimination and encourage inclusiveness.
Human Rights Code
1. Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or handicap. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 1.
Effective human rights organizational change requires a solid understanding of the legal and ethical requirements of human rights in Ontario, and the elements of effective organizational change.
While the courts have not set a clear formula or analytical approach for dealing with competing rights, they have provided some guidance. Where rights appear to be in conflict, Charter principles require decision-makers to try to “reconcile” both sets of rights.
This document explains the legal backdrop for the Commission’s Policy Framework. It is divided into two main sections. The first provides an overview and summary of key legal principles from some significant legal decisions. This section aims to help readers understand the relevant legal background when seeking to conciliate or otherwise reconcile competing rights claims. The second part of the document surveys the leading cases that deal with competing rights. It also provides examples of situations where the leading cases, and the key principles from them, have been applied by courts and tribunals. It is divided by the types of rights conflicts that most commonly arise. The cases are discussed in some detail as the specific factual context of each case is so important to the rights reconciliation process.
1.1. The Code context
The Code states that it is public policy in Ontario to recognize the inherent dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination. The provisions of the Code are aimed at creating a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person, so that each person feels a part of the community and feels able to contribute to the community.