Over the past year, the Chief Commissioner has travelled to many parts of Ontario and made presentations to a wide variety of audiences, such as:
Every student in Ontario needs to have opportunities to learn and succeed. This does not happen when students are suspended because of mental illness beyond their control, or can’t take the courses they need because they use a wheelchair and the school does not have an elevator, or they are disciplined for not following the dress code because they wear a hijab in accordance with their creed, or they are bullied for being lesbian, gay or transgendered.
In our society we have different levels of rights – Charter rights, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Code rights, from Ontario’s Human Rights Code, statutory rights created by laws and other “perceived rights.” As people better understand their rights and wish to exercise them, some of those rights can come into conflict. For example, the right to be free from discrimination on the ground of religious creed, or sexual orientation or gender can sometimes appear to be at odds with other rights.
Tribunals and courts face a growing need to balance competing rights, in areas such as religion and sexual orientation. One example of this balancing act is Ontario Human Rights Commission v. Christian Horizons, a lengthy and complex case which was appealed to the Ontario Divisional Court.
A good example of rights and responsibilities colliding is the case of Deepinder Loomba, a Sikh man who wears a turban. In his job as a security guard, he was assigned to monitor security at a Home Depot store that was still under construction. Although there were signs stating hardhats were required on the site, Mr. Loomba did not wear one because it interfered with the turban he wore as an element of his faith.
Overall Change Objective
- The identification and elimination of any discrimination that may exist in all employment and service activities of the Correctional Services Division of MCSCS.
Specific Change Objectives
A. Aboriginal Issues
- Ensure that special focus on the needs and concerns of Aboriginal people, including Aboriginal employees and inmates, is retained in all Human Rights Project activity.
- Enhance ongoing efforts to promote the recruitment, selection, promotion, and retention of Aboriginal employees in MCSCS.
Status and Purpose of the Code
The Code is quasi-constitutional legislation which has primacy over all other legislation in Ontario, unless the other legislation specifically states that it applies despite the Code. This means that if another piece of legislation contains a provision which conflicts with or contravenes the Code, the Code will prevail.
The Code protects against discrimination in rental housing on the following grounds: