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Our foundational strengths

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There are two critical elements that together provide the framework for the Strategic Plan: substantive strategic focus areas and foundational strengths. There is an interdependent relationship between these two elements and together they can drive the OHRC towards its vision.

Foundational strengths form the basis for the OHRC to launch its strategic focus areas. In many ways, these strengths are informed by and reflect our values. They are the critical factors to achieving success at a daily operational level and also to achieving substantive results. Over the coming five years, the OHRC will focus on building and improving capacity in the following five areas, and monitoring and measuring our progress.

Leadership voice

The OHRC’s ability and willingness to communicate broadly, clearly and in a timely way is critical to providing effective leadership that advances the realization of human rights. Our communications must be principled and accessible. Over the next five years, we will clearly communicate why and how peoples’ experiences are human rights issues. We will speak out about the human toll and cost of discrimination. We will retain capacity to respond strategically to critical and emerging issues across all Code grounds and social areas. We will provide human rights solutions.

We will do this by:

  • Communicating clearly, transparently and regularly
  • Integrating communications strategies throughout our work and focus areas
  • Leveraging our relationships and profile in traditional, community and social media purposefully and strategically
  • Pursuing communication strategies that are accessible and that put people at the centre
  • Leveraging opportunities to explain Ontario’s human rights system and the functions of each pillar
  • Developing clear criteria and transparent processes to identify and address critical and emerging human rights issues across our mandate.

Our people

Our staff and leaders are integral to the success of the OHRC. Over the next five years, we will focus on continuing to strengthen our workplace culture and environment. We will enhance personal and organizational well-being and connectedness.

We will do this by:

  • Ensuring that each person is valued and recognized
  • Continuing to foster, value and recognize team work and collaboration
  • Making sure that each person can identify a connection between their role and achieving our vision
  • Practicing efficient and transparent decision-making to strengthen accountability
  • Strengthening achievement of our priorities through effective leadership and accountability of leaders and staff

Our relationships

The OHRC relies on our relationships with a broad range of individuals, groups, organizations and institutions, including government, NGOs, community groups and human rights duty holders (for example, employers, housing and other service providers). We will continue to strengthen our relationships with the other two pillars of the human rights system, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) and Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). The success of this Strategic Plan is not possible without engaging our collective commitment and expertise.

We will do this by:

  • Reaching out and listening to people who are often marginalized and who are most affected by systemic discrimination
  • Implementing a strategic, meaningful and sustainable approach to community engagement
  • Leveraging our relationships, particularly with government, purposefully and strategically to effect systemic change
  • Continuing to engage and share information regularly with the HRLSC and HRTO to ensure the efficiency of the human rights system
  • Creating opportunities for increased formal and informal collaboration with the HRLSC
  • Strategically engaging with and supporting international and regional human rights procedures.

Evidence-informed approaches

The OHRC will situate itself to be a trusted and credible authority on human rights issues in Ontario. We believe in evidence-informed approaches to understand the state of human rights and systemic discrimination in Ontario and to evaluate our own work. People’s stories and lived-experiences are an important part of this accountability. We recognize the need to collect both quantitative and qualitative data and to be able to show our relevance and the impact of our work. Over the coming five years, we will promote an environment that champions and rewards continuous learning and evaluation.

We will do this by:

  • Developing theories of change for each of our strategic focus areas to ensure strategic use of our functions and powers
  • Aligning our resources and our strategies with our theories of change to optimize our effectiveness and achieve our strategic priorities
  • Activating our public inquiry functions and powers
  • Leveraging our mandate and unique status to push duty-holders to collect and publicly report on human-rights based data
  • Improving our internal data collection, analysis and reporting capacity and processes
  • Improving our processes for evaluation and continuous improvement
  • Monitoring and reporting on trends in human rights and discrimination in Ontario
  • Developing and implementing data and information sharing protocols with other pillars of the human rights system, government organizations, academic institutions and NGOs.

Practical guidance and solutions

We recognize that our policies are principled and authoritative and provide the vital analysis required to promote and enforce human rights. We also recognize that it is critical for human rights policies to be translated into behaviours that meet human rights obligations. Over the coming five years, we will strive to ensure that policy is translated into practice by duty holders in a way that delivers a lived experience of human rights.

We will do this by:

  • Providing practical guidance to facilitate duty holders’ compliance with human rights obligations in practice, with a particular focus on employers
  • Continuing to provide education and outreach to assist duty holders and others to understand and act on their human rights and responsibilities.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission
Strategic Plan 2017 – 2022

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