2002 - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today released Education and Disability: Human Rights Issues in Ontario’s Education System, and announced plans for a public consultation on disability issues in Ontario’s education system this fall.
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:
July 2006 - The Ontario Human Rights Code creates a right to barrier-free restaurants, shops, hotels, movie theatres and other public places, and obliges businesses operating in Ontario to make their facilities accessible. A failure to provide equal access to a facility or equal treatment in a service constitutes a violation of the Human Rights Code. The only available defence to such discrimination is showing that providing access or services would constitute undue hardship having regard to cost, outside sources of funding, or health and safety factors.
July 2007 - The Ontario Human Rights Commission has reached a settlement with a complainant and Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited in a complaint alleging racial discrimination.
There is an exception to the rule that services and facilities must be offered without discrimination. It allows a religious official to refuse to perform a marriage ceremony, to refuse to make available a sacred place for performing a marriage ceremony or for an event related to a marriage ceremony, or to assist in the marriage ceremony where the ceremony would be against the person’s religious beliefs or the principles of their religion.
Separate schools in Ontario have special rights guaranteed by the Constitution and by the Education Act. Section 19 means that the Code cannot affect those rights, which are mainly related to the existence and funding of Roman Catholic schools. Otherwise, the right to be free from discrimination under the Code applies to Catholic schools. All schools have a legal duty to provide students with an education environment free from harassment and other forms of discrimination because of Code grounds.
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.
January 2014 - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has used a range of its functions to reduce and eliminate discrimination relating to land use planning. However, to meet Ministry goals and be consistent with Ontario’s Human Rights Code, the land use planning and appeal system needs to incorporate a human rights lens and provide human rights-related information, education and resources to those who implement and use the system. Planners and decision-makers throughout the system and in municipalities will benefit from clear guidance from the Province.