Hon. Greg Rickford
Minister of Indigenous Affairs
Suite 400, 160 Bloor St E
Toronto, ON M7A 2E6
Hon. Caroline Mulroney
McMurtry-Scott Building, 11th Floor
720 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2S9
Dear Minister Rickford and Attorney General Mulroney,
Re: Bill 76 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
I hope this finds you well. I am writing today to communicate the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) strong support for Bill 76, An Act to ensure that the laws of Ontario are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The OHRC has identified reconciliation as a focus area in our 2017-2022 Strategic Plan because we recognize that “the OHRC has an important role to play in building a vision of human rights that reconciles with Indigenous culture, laws, treaties, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples…” In November 2018, the OHRC released To dream together: Indigenous peoples and human rights dialogue report which summarizes the OHRC’s extensive engagement with diverse First Nations, Métis and Inuit (Indigenous) peoples and recommends that all levels of government “use the UN Declaration as the organizing framework for understanding, interpreting and implementing Indigenous peoples’ human rights in Canada.” For our part, the OHRC is actively engaged in efforts to interpret the Ontario Human Rights Code in a manner that gives effect to the UN Declaration.
Bill 76 is entirely consistent with the OHRC’s recommendations in To Dream Together and, if passed, would provide an important mechanism for Ontario to uphold its international human rights obligations and signal a meaningful commitment to reconciliation.
On March 21, 2019, Bill 76 passed second reading unanimously and was referred to the Standing Committee on General Government. The OHRC encourages the government to ensure that Bill 76 is considered by Committee as soon as possible, and reported back to the House for third reading and final passage. The OHRC intends to appear before the Standing Committee on General Government to support Bill 76.
Please do not hesitate to contact me directly to discuss Bill 76 further.
Renu Mandhane, B.A., J.D., LL.M.
Ontario Human Rights Commission
cc. Sol Mamakwa, Member of Provincial Parliament (Kiiwetinoong)
Clifford Bull, Special Advisor on Indigenous Affairs