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.
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:
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.
March 1 2013 - The OHRC recognizes that accessibility requirements have been enhanced with each new edition of the Building Code regulation and welcomes the latest proposal for new barrier-free design requirements. The OHRC also has a number of concerns about the proposed changes as well as additional recommendations for barrier-free requirements in the Building Code regulation.
Under the Code, service providers have a duty to provide services that are free from discrimination and harassment. “Services” is a very broad category and includes services designed for everyone (shops, restaurants or education), as well as those that apply specifically to people with mental health disabilities and addictions (the mental health system or addiction treatment centres).
Section 1 of the Code prohibits discrimination based on family status in the social areas of services, goods and facilities. This is an extremely broad social area, covering everything from corner stores and shopping malls, to education, health services and public transit. The issues are therefore also extremely diverse. However, very little attention has been paid to these issues.
April 2008 - In October 2007, in response to recent developments and ongoing concerns in the area of transit accessibility, the Commission began an inquiry into whether transit providers across the province announce transit stops. Through this initiative, the Commission hoped to improve awareness in the transit sector of the importance of announcing all stops for the purposes of inclusion and accessibility, and to secure commitments toward quickly developing and implementing stop announcement plans.
July 2006 - For the past five years, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the "Commission") has been working closely with the restaurant industry to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities, older individuals, and families with young children. Moving Towards Barrier-Free Services is the OHRC’s final public report on this initiative.
April 2004 - In the spring of 2001, the Commission began its efforts to engage the restaurant industry to promote the accessibility of its services and facilities for persons with disabilities in Ontario. The audit focused on the physical premises and services of seven select restaurant chains totaling 28 locations across the province.
2003 - The Report provides an in-depth picture of human rights issues relating to disability and education in the province of Ontario. It outlines “Actions Required” of key players in the education system to address the practices and attitudes that limit the ability of students with disabilities to access education equally. It also includes specific Commission commitments which are steps that the Commission will take to help combat discrimination against students with disabilities. The Commission’s analysis and recommendations are informed by the comprehensive input received from stakeholders throughout the course of the consultation.
2002 - Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, transit service providers have a legal responsibility to ensure that transit systems are accessible to all Ontarians. Many older persons depend of public transit services to go to work, to get to medical appointments, to go to the grocery store, to participate in recreational activities and to visit family and friends. Transit services that are not accessible can cause isolation and prevent participation of older persons in our communities.