I am pleased once again to report to the Honourable Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, the Legislative Assembly and the people of Ontario on the work of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. This fiscal year, 1999-2000, is the fourth consecutive year in which the Commission has made major strides forward in improving its level and quality of service to the people of our province.
The staff of the Commission deserve a great deal of credit for what they have accomplished over the past four years in transforming the Commission into a much more effective agency of the people of Ontario in advancing public policy as set out by the Legislature in the Ontario Human Rights Code. Not only has the Commission managed the largest human rights caseload in Canada with ever increasing effectiveness, it has also continued to expand its public education mandate to reach directly over 8,000 people this year and has developed new policy and guidelines to assist people in interpreting and applying the Code. Employers, employees and any member of the public can now count on getting expert advice on human rights issues from staff who are at the forefront in human rights policy development in Canada.
While I want to emphasize this is not just a matter of numbers, the Commission has had an historic problem of delays in coping with a very heavy caseload. In the past three years with the development of a new state-of-the-art case management system, the introduction of voluntary mediation and the extensive new training for all staff we are now very close to a current caseload. Almost all of the older cases have now been processed and we have fewer cases in the system than we would normally deal with in one year.
It is, therefore, with considerable optimism that I present this report and say that your Commission is now serving the people of Ontario and assisting Ontario and Canada to maintain their international human rights commitments more effectively than at any time in recent memory.
Keith C. Norton, Q.C., B.A., LL.B
About the Commission
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) is an arm’s length agency of government accountable to the Legislature of Ontario through the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. The Commission's principal functions are set out in the Human Rights Code (the “Code”) and include the investigation and settlement of human rights complaints. Under the Code, the Commission’s work also includes promoting human rights and public awareness.