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This paper has explored the need for a more holistic understanding of how people experience discrimination. The Commission has already started applying an intersectional approach to some of the complaints that have come before it. In addition, an intersectional analysis has been added as one of the lenses through which policy work is conducted. An understanding of discrimination as largely a product of the social construction of identity, based on social, historical, political and cultural factors, is informing the Commission’s work in all areas. The Commission’s new framework for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, as set out in its Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate, is an example of this.

The Commission has an opportunity to build on the work that has been done to date by searching for more concrete ways to implement intersectionality in all aspects of its mandate. This paper represents the first phase of this effort. It has endeavoured to review human rights and Charter cases as well as literature with a view to analyzing shortcomings where an intersectional analysis has not been applied. It outlines positive developments that can guide the Commission in the application of an intersectional approach. It is a starting point to stimulate further discussion of how the Commission can operationalize an intersectional approach.

The next step is to involve all areas of the Commission as well as outside expertise in a process of consultation. The Commission would therefore invite comment on this Discussion Paper and, in particular, on practical ways in which an intersectional approach can be applied in all areas of the Commission’s work including: intake and drafting of complaints, mediation, investigation, litigation and policy and education. Written submissions will be accepted until October 31, 2002 and may be sent to:

Ontario Human Rights Commission
Intersectionality Consultation
Policy and Education Branch
180 Dundas Street West, 7th Floor
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2R9

Fax: (416) 314-4533

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