Since 2018, the world has observed January 24 as the International Day of Education. This year’s theme is “Changing Course, Transforming Education” – an approach that has defined the work of the Ontario Human Rights Commission for over 20 years.
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.
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.
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.
The OHRC welcomes the Postsecondary Education Standards Development Committee’s 2021 Initial Recommendations Report under the AODA, and provides additional recommendations.
The OHRC welcomes the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s 2021 initial recommendations report under the AODA, and provides additional recommendations.