February 2014 - Elected and municipal officials often need to respond to questions about rental, affordable, social and supportive housing. These questions often involve human rights. Here are some human rights points to consider.
February 21, 2014 – Thank you for pointing out that “student housing can benefit a neighbourhood.” The points you make about not applying different rules for students, and the need to focus on the character of a building instead of potential tenants, echo the human rights messages we have been sending across Ontario. Everyone – including students – has human rights in housing. Making decisions based on the “perceived desirability of the people who might want to live there” is not the way to build healthy, welcoming communities.
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.
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.
Sexual harassment in housing and workplaces
“Harassment” in this section means comments or actions based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression that are unwelcome to you or should be known to be unwelcome. They may include humiliating or annoying conduct. Harassment requires a “course of conduct,” which means that a pattern of behaviour or more than one incident is usually required for a claim to be made to the Tribunal. However, a single significant incident may be offensive enough to be considered sexual harassment.
Lodging houses are an important form of affordable housing for many vulnerable groups identified by Human Rights Code grounds, including residents who receive public assistance, racialized persons, people with disabilities, newcomers, older and younger people, and single women. For this reason, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) offers the following comments on the proposed lodging house licensing bylaw and the accompanying zoning bylaw amendment.
Accommodation rights and responsibilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) would like to bring several items to the attention of the Planning and Growth Management Committee as the Committee considers the Chief Planner’s reports on group homes and dwelling room accommodations at its October 22, 2013 meeting.
The ultimate responsibility for maintaining an environment free from sexual harassment rests with employers, housing providers, educators and other responsible parties covered by the Code. From a human rights perspective, it is not acceptable to choose to stay unaware of sexual harassment, whether or not a human rights claim has been made.