Mounting evidence shows that groups identified under Ontario’s Human Rights Code have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. These effects are being exacerbated by the current Omicron wave and the recent decisions to close and reopen schools.
2021 has been a year of recovery, human rights challenges and adapting to the new normal. Through it, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has relentlessly continued to address pervasive inequities and systemic discrimination and racism with measures grounded in the Ontario Human Rights Code. As the journey continues, take a moment to look at some of the highlighted work of the OHRC from 2021.
The Human Rights Code requires proactive planning to prevent or remove barriers to people with disabilities and older adults in services. The OHRC has written to government ministers to encourage them to make sure people with disabilities and older adults will have the same opportunity as others to obtain the health card renewal online.
Listen to Chief Commissioner Patricia DeGuire’s remarks on Human Rights Day.
Today on Human Rights Day, the Law Commission of Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Commission announced a joint research and policy initiative to examine human rights issues in the development, use and governance of artificial intelligence and algorithms in Canada and specifically in Ontario.
Since 1992, the world has been commemorating December 3 as International Day of Persons with Disabilities. While we annually observe this day to promote the human rights of people with disabilities, we need to work daily on resolving the systemic inequities they experience.
The OHRC has submitted comments on the Information and Privacy Commission’s draft privacy guidance on facial recognition for police agencies.
On November 9, 2021, the OHRC released its Policy statement on human rights in COVID-19 recovery planning. The OHRC has shared this statement with ministers across all relevant sectors, as we believe it will help guide their ministry’s pandemic recovery efforts.
Engaging the human rights principles contained in the OHRC Policy statement on human rights in COVID-19 recovery planning will result in evidence- and human rights-informed approaches to recovery planning, policy and program design. Rooting the pandemic recovery in human rights principles and proactively taking equity into account will support governments and service providers in meeting their legal obligations to eliminate discrimination and advance substantive equality.
The OHRC is pleased that the university states it intends to robustly review the University Mandated Leave of Absence Policy (UMLAP). We urge the U of T to take the time to make sure it conducts a proper review, which includes the components in this letter, to identify and address human rights concerns that may arise from the UMLAP and its implementation.
Seventy-five years ago today, Viola Desmond took a stand against racism that directly challenged segregation in Canada, and left a legacy of extraordinary courage, perseverance, resilience and dignity that has inspired generations of Black Canadians and others to stand up against racism and discrimination.
The OHRC welcomes the Ministry of Education’s consultation on strengthening accountability for school board trustees, and is particularly interested in measures to ensure trustees are held accountable if they fail to fulfill their legal obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code).
The OHRC wrote to the Chair of the Postsecondary Education Standards Development Committee to welcome their initial recommendations for developing proposed postsecondary education standards under the AODA, and to provide a submission with additional recommendations.
The OHRC wrote to the Chair of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee to welcome the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s 2021 initial recommendations report under the AODA, and to provide a submission with additional recommendations.
The OHRC is concerned that the Township of Brock’s Interim Control By-law 2994-2020 to "prohibit the establishment of Supportive Housing and Modular Construction, including Manufactured Dwelling Houses" creates barriers to establishing and accessing supportive housing, which may be discriminatory under the Human Rights Code. The OHRC calls on Council to remove any barriers that have a discriminatory effect as soon as possible, and to allow such supportive housing projects to proceed.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission is developing a new policy statement on the discriminatory display of names, words and images, and wants to hear from the public about this quickly-evolving issue.
While receiving a COVID-19 vaccine remains voluntary, the OHRC takes the position that mandating and requiring proof of vaccination to protect people at work or when receiving services is generally permissible under the Human Rights Code (Code) as long as protections are put in place to make sure people who are unable to be vaccinated for Code-related reasons are reasonably accommodated.
In its submission on the Toronto Police Services Board’s Use of Artificial Intelligence Technologies Policy, the OHRC recommends several actions for the TPSB to take in developing its AI Policy. Consistent with a human rights-based approach, these actions are aimed at protecting vulnerable and marginalized groups that may be disproportionately affected by AI technology used by the TPS. These actions are designed to insure against consequences that would undermine the desired benefits of police services’ efficiency and effectiveness, and public trust in policing.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding reached in 2020, Chief Commissioner Patricia DeGuire and the OHRC continue to work collaboratively with the Peel Regional Police and the Peel Police Services Board to address systemic racism and discrimination in policing. As one of the steps in this process, PRP, PPSB and the OHRC have developed a survey seeking community feedback on experiences with and perceptions of PRP.
The OHRC wrote to the Health Care Standards Committee to support its initial recommendations for developing health care accessibility standards, and to make further recommendations to strengthen the standards.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes Patricia DeGuire as the new Chief Commissioner effective Thursday, August 19, 2021.
Today the OHRC released its Framework for change to address systemic racism in policing, calling on Ontario to establish a legislative and regulatory framework to directly address systemic racial discrimination in policing across the province.
This series profiling OHRC Commissioners offers a deeper look at who the Commissioners are, what drives them to advance human rights, and what issues are currently most important to them. The sixth in the series features Commissioner Eyolfson, a lawyer who practices alternative dispute resolution, providing independent investigation, mediation and adjudication services, primarily in the area of human rights.
This past year, the OHRC has repeatedly denounced the escalating hate that is targeting religious and racialized communities. It is essential that we all take steps, and take them quickly, to stand in solidarity, as individuals and through our organizations, to call out Islamophobia and racism and reject the hatred and the violence it begets.
The OHRC joins community calls for governments to review hate crime laws to ensure these laws are responsive to the lived realities of hate activity across Canada, and enforcement to ensure that police are doing what is necessary to support communities in distress and keep communities safe.
This series profiling OHRC Commissioners offers a deeper look at who the Commissioners are, what drives them to advance human rights, and what issues are currently most important to them. The fifth in the series features Commissioner Pieters, who brings to the Commission over two decades of leadership roles in equity initiatives in the education sector as teacher, vice-principal and principal.
On July 8, 2021, the OHRC wrote a second letter to 23 municipalities about the harmful impact of Indigenous-themed sports logos in city facilities.
The OHRC is pleased that the City of Toronto’s proposed framework for multi-tenant houses implements human rights principles and “would establish city-wide permissions for multi-tenant houses.”
The Ontario Human Rights Commission welcomes the nomination of Patricia DeGuire as the new Chief Commissioner.
The OHRC is concerned about Toronto police officers “being asked to increase their presence on TTC properties and vehicles where possible,” as noted in the Toronto Transit Commission’s July 2021 CEO Report.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) stands with Indigenous communities across Canada in their outrage and mourning after 751 unmarked graves were located on the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.
The OHRC is concerned about the lack of oversight in Ontario’s prisons after the government’s recent decision to disband Community Advisory Boards (CABs). More independent and robust oversight is needed – not less.
Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released Human rights under pressure: from policing to pandemics, its 2020–21 annual report. The report highlights the OHRC’s work to advance human rights on key issues at a time when the values of human rights have come under intense pressure in all areas of society.
June 14, 2021 – The OHRC is concerned about the unique implications that artificial intelligence (AI) presents to the human rights of Ontario’s marginalized and vulnerable communities, and has made a submission to Ontario’s public consultation on the Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence Framework.
This horrific and senseless act further underlines why discrimination based on creed and racism must be unequivocally condemned as deplorable and in violation of core values and beliefs as a society.
The OHRC urges the HCDSB to join other Catholic school boards in welcoming their LGBTQ2+ students, staff and community members by flying the Pride flag.
The OHRC responded to a second request from Seniors for Social Action Ontario for the OHRC to undertake a section 31 public interest inquiry into the institutionalization of older adults in Ontario.
A new series profiling OHRC Commissioners offers a deeper look at who the Commissioners are, what drives them to advance human rights, and what issues are currently most important to them. The fourth in the series features Commissioner Arsenault, a veteran Toronto police officer with experience ranging from youth services to the Aboriginal Peacekeeping Unit. He uses an extensive social media following to promote community safety and community-building.
To keep Ontario’s people and communities safe, it is critical for Ontario’s justice sector to once again make sure the prison custody numbers come down and stay down.
The OHRC is concerned about accounts from members of Ontario’s South Asian communities of hate and stigmatization in reaction to the ongoing COVID-19 humanitarian crisis in India.
The OHRC is concerned that the most recent expansion of police discretionary power to enforce the latest “stay-at-home order” will likely result in a disproportionate impact on members of marginalized and vulnerable communities.
The OHRC wrote to colleges and universities, asking them to identify what actions their administrations are taking to provide equitable and inclusive learning environments, including efforts to investigate discrimination and harassment in a timely and effective way.
The OHRC responded to a request from Seniors for Social Action Ontario for the OHRC to undertake a section 31 public interest inquiry into the institutionalization of older adults in Ontario.
The OHRC responded to a request from Ontario Council of Hospital Unions-CUPE, Ontario Health Coalition and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly for the OHRC to undertake a section 31 public interest inquiry into the institutionalization of older adults in Ontario.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) urgently calls on the government to clarify the status of the Adult Critical Care Clinical Emergency Standard of Care for Major Surge protocol (the Emergency Standard of Care) that was circulated to hospitals in January. The government must also confirm that the Health Care Consent Act prevails to protect the rights of patients and families at this time.
In an opinion editorial published online at National Newswatch on April 4, 2021, Chief Commissioner Ena Chadha discusses how Martin Luther King’s fight against poverty must guide our post-COVID vision.
The OHRC calls on the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and Metrolinx, as the owner and operator of PRESTO, to make sure that they adopt a human rights-centred approach to their fare system planning and implementation.
Universities and colleges must take a hard and unflinching look at the ways their policies, practices, and attitudes perpetuate discrimination. This opinion editorial by Chief Commissioner Ena Chadha was published on tvo.org on March 22, 2021.
On March 12, 2021, the OHRC wrote to Solicitor General Jones to make a submission to the ministry’s review of Regulations under the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 to determine whether any of the prescribed temporary exemptions should continue, be narrowed or removed.
"COVID-19 fears are fanning the flames of racism in Kenora,” an op-ed by Chief Commissioner Ena Chadha, was published on March 1, 2021 on TVO.org.