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The Commission Caseload

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In 2004-2005, the Commission received 100 complaints relating to discrimination in housing.[51] While this number amounts to only about 4 percent of the total complaints received by the Commission during this time period, the complaints that have been filed frequently raise significant systemic issues, issues that potentially affect large numbers of people besides the actual complainant.[52] It should also be noted that many individuals experiencing discrimination in rental housing may find it difficult, for a number of reasons, to come forward to file a complaint. For example, feedback from individuals and groups indicates that a significant number of tenants in Ontario who have experienced discrimination and/or harassment are “non-status” Canadians. These individuals may fear a fall-out with immigration authorities if they challenge unfair treatment through the human rights system. In addition, those who are new to the country may also experience language barriers which make it extremely difficult to access housing information and to advocate for one’s rights.

To date, the Commission has not had the opportunity to devote significant resources to public education in the area of rental housing and it is quite likely that the public’s general lack of awareness of the Code’s protection against discrimination and harassment in this area contributes to these relatively low numbers. Further, time is of the essence for those who experience discrimination and/or harassment in rental housing, and once a housing opportunity is lost, one may not see the human rights system as capable of providing practical redress and may, therefore, not see the point of filing a complaint. Therefore, it should be kept in mind that the actual number of complaints filed with the Commission is likely not a reliable indicator of the true extent of discrimination in housing.

[51] The majority of complaints that were filed with the Commission in 2004-2005 were filed on the ground of disability, with family status, race and colour, and sex and pregnancy also comprising a significant number.
[52] The number of complaints filed in the area of housing has fluctuated over time and has, in fact, been higher in recent years. For example, in 2000-2001, housing complaints amounted to 8% of the total number of complaints received by the OHRC, and in 2001-2002, this number was 7%.

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