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:
February 2008 - The draft policy raises a number of new concerns. The following pages detail the Commission’s concerns and provide suggestions for how to address them. We hope that our comments assist the College in providing greater clarity and ensuring that physicians have correct and sufficient information about their obligations under the Code.
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.
February 19, 2015 - Dear Dr. Leet, The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has reviewed the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s (CPSO) new draft policy, Professional Obligations and Human Rights.
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.
March 2017 - Education providers are responsible for many things, including delivering a curriculum, managing the various other aspects of educational services, ensuring student safety, fostering pluralistic environments that respect human rights, and managing tension and conflict as they arise in the school setting. Schools ought to be a place for healthy discussions about acceptance and where a diversity of views can co-exist. Educators should communicate messages about difference in a fair and respectful manner and be sensitive to the views of everyone protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code. Students, staff and parents should realize that they cannot reasonably expect their own views and beliefs to be respected if they are not willing to respect the views and beliefs of others.
March 2012 - The OHRC will focus its comments on the issues and barriers identified in the CRSAO’s reports that connect to the OHRC’s current priority initiatives dealing with racism experienced by Aboriginal people and other groups as well as disability, especially mental health discrimination.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the opportunity to provide input to the government’s legislated review of the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA). Section 1 of Ontario’s Human Rights Code protects children from discrimination in services, because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status or disability.
March 8, 2016 - Some Ontario employers require female employees to dress in a sexualized or gender-specific way at work, such as expecting women to wear high heels, short skirts, tight clothing or low-cut tops. These kinds of dress codes reinforce stereotypical and sexist notions about how women should look and may violate Ontario’s Human Rights Code.