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.
Goods, services and facilities
You have the right to be free from discrimination when you receive goods or services, or use facilities. For example, this right applies to:
- stores, restaurants and bars
- hospitals and health services
- schools, universities and colleges
- public places, amenities and utilities such as recreation centres, public washrooms, malls and parks
- services and programs provided by municipal and provincial governments, including social assistance and benefits, and public transit
- services provided by insurance companies
- classified advertisement space in a newspaper.
Relevant policies and guides:
October 14, 1999 - Insurance practices routinely make distinctions based on, among other things, gender, age, marital status and disability. While many of these distinctions are based on valid business practices, others raise questions and concerns. These concerns relate to the existence of non-discriminatory alternatives to current practices and about respect for human rights.
Ontario’s Human Rights Code is Ontario’s highest law. All schools, including public, Catholic and private, have a legal duty to provide students with an educational environment free from harassment and other forms of discrimination because of their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability and sex including gender identity. Bullying is a form of harassment within the meaning of the Code.
I am here today on behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission to indicate our general support for this proposed legislation.Let there be no doubt. Bullying is a critical human rights matter. Ontario’s Human Rights Code is Ontario’s highest law. All schools, including public, Catholic and private, have a legal duty to provide students with an educational environment free from harassment and other forms of discrimination because of their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability and sex including gender identity.
July 25, 2012 - We are pleased to note that a key objective of the consultation is to develop revised criteria that are in accordance with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s decision dated April 11, 2012 in XY v. Ontario (Government and Consumer Services). We trust that this submission is of assistance in your development of revised criteria. We address the questions set out in your Consultation Document, and make additional observations.
This section allows separate washrooms, examination areas, change rooms and other services that are men-only or women-only. Trans people should be provided access to facilities that are consistent with their lived gender identity.
 For more information, see the OHRC’s Policy on discrimination and harassment because of gender identity (2000).
Recreational clubs such as sports clubs may give different services or charge different fees to persons based on sex, marital status or family status. For example, special family rates in a community centre or women-only sections of a gym are permitted under the Code.
August 22, 2014 - Dear Minister, Please find attached the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) submission in response to Ministry of Government and Consumer Services’ consultation regarding change of sex designation on a birth registration of a minor.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the Ministry of Government Services’ consultation regarding change of sex designation on a birth registration of a minor. The OHRC is concerned that the current government practice – which does not allow for a change of sex designation on the birth registration and certificate of persons under age 18 – is discriminatory on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.
If you think you are being sexually harassed, start keeping a written record of events...