The Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) provides for equal rights and opportunities, and freedom from discrimination. The Code recognizes the dignity and worth of every person in Ontario and applies to the areas of employment, housing, goods, facilities and services, contracts, and membership in unions, trade or professional associations. In Ontario, the law protects you from discrimination and harassment in these areas because of mental health disabilities and addictions. This includes past, present and perceived conditions.
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 2002 - While not referring to any existing private schools, Chief Commissioner Keith C. Norton has publicly expressed concerns regarding the Ontario government’s proposed tax credit for parents who send their children to private schools.
July 2013 - When an employer requires people applying for jobs to have “Canadian experience,” or where a regulatory body requires “Canadian experience” before someone can get accredited, they may create barriers for newcomers to Canada. Requiring “Canadian experience” could violate the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code), which protects people from discrimination based on grounds such as race, ancestry, colour, place of origin and ethnic origin.
December 2013 - Under the Code, all organizations are prohibited from treating people unfairly because of Code grounds, must remove barriers that cause discrimination, and must stop it when it occurs. Organizations can also choose to develop “special programs” to help disadvantaged groups improve their situation. The Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms both recognize the importance of addressing historical disadvantage by protecting special programs to help marginalized groups. The Supreme Court of Canada has also recognized the need to protect “programs” established by legislation that are designed to address the conditions of a disadvantaged group.
December 2013 - The purpose of this guide is to provide organizations with some practical help for developing effective and fair ways to prevent human rights infringements, and for responding to human rights issues such as harassment, discrimination and accommodation needs. Employers, landlords and service providers all have an obligation to make sure that human rights are respected, and can all benefit from the information provided in this publication.
June 2014 - Discrimination in services may happen when a person experiences negative treatment or impact because of their mental health or addiction disability. Discrimination does not have to be intentional. And, a person’s mental health or addiction disability needs to be only one factor in the treatment they received to be able to show that discrimination took place. People with a mental health or addiction disability who also identify with other Code grounds (such as sex, race or age) may be distinctly disadvantaged when they try to access a service. Stereotypes may exist that are based on combinations of these identities that place people at unique disadvantage.
Discriminatory opposition to affordable housing for groups protected under the Code (“Not-in-my-backyard” syndrome or “NIMBYism”) makes it much harder to develop affordable social and supportive housing for people with mental health issues or addictions.
If you think you are being sexually harassed, start keeping a written record of events...
In employment, people with disabilities are entitled to the same opportunities and benefits as everyone else. “Employment” includes employees, independent contractors and volunteers. The Code prohibits discrimination based on someone’s disability in all aspects of the employment relationship.
People with disabilities have the right to be free from discrimination when they receive goods or services, or use facilities. “Services” is a broad category and can include privately or publicly owned or operated services.