TORONTO – Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released Reflect, reimagine, respond: results, its 2021–2022 annual report, highlighting the steps it took to reflect on, reimagine and respond to human rights concerns, and ultimately bring about human rights results for Ontarians.
Last year, the OHRC celebrated its 60th anniversary. This year on June 15, 2022, it celebrated the 60th anniversary of Ontario’s Human Rights Code (Code) – the first legislation of its kind in Canada. This annual report references some key human rights moments of the past 60 years, and the leading roles people and communities have played in recognizing, protecting and advancing human rights. It offers a glimpse of the various visions and victories of the OHRC in carrying out its mandate.
Over the past two years, Ontarians have dealt with two pandemics – COVID-19 and the pandemic of racism, particularly against Black, Indigenous, Asian and religious communities. These circumstances, including hate crimes, have heightened the urgency to embed human rights into the fabric of our society and our institutions. As the world changes, approaches to human rights must change. The OHRC is marshalling its resources and adapting its approaches to respond to today’s issues, to be able to shift as new issues emerge, and to make a difference.
Reflecting, reimagining and responding only have value if they lead to meaningful results. This report shares many of the outcomes arising from the OHRC’s work with communities across Ontario. Highlights include:
- Released the Right to Read inquiry report in February 2022. This inquiry into human rights issues affecting students with reading disabilities and other students has already led to significant changes in curriculum, early screening and other areas.
- Issued two policy statements on COVID-19. The Policy statement on COVID-19 vaccine mandates and proof of vaccine certificates had an immediate impact and received extensive media coverage. The OHRC guidance was followed by services and organizations across Ontario and was successful in embedding a human rights approach to the pandemic. The Policy statement on human rights in COVID-19 recovery planning, provided government, service providers and other duty-holders with principles and obligations for a human rights-focused recovery from the pandemic.
- Released the Framework for change to address systemic racism in policing, which was among the OHRC’s responses to the global trauma of the murder of George Floyd. It seeks to create new standards for equitable policing across Ontario.
- The OHRC, Peel Regional Police and the Peel Police Services Board moved forward on a human rights organizational change project to address systemic racism in policing. This project uses the seven principles in the OHRC’s Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement as a framework for change and includes a focus on accountability through community engagement, a legally enforceable agreement and independent monitoring.
- Intervened in Ontario v Association of Ontario Midwives before the Court of Appeal for Ontario, to support the principle that duty-holders have an obligation to ensure they are not engaging in gender-based discrimination in the workplace regarding pay equity.
- Ongoing engagement with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities included a collaboration with Pro Bono Students Canada and the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Circles on issues related to discrimination faced by First Nations, Métis and Inuit people while shopping.
“I call on all Ontarians to reflect, reimagine and respond to our call to embed human rights at the centre of everything you do,” said OHRC Chief Commissioner Patricia DeGuire. “This strengthens our democracy – and leads to results that will benefit all of us.”
Issues and Media Relations Officer
Ontario Human Rights Commission
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