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.
The concept of ‘intersectionality’ has been defined as “intersectional oppression [that] arises out of the combination of various oppressions which, together, produce something unique and distinct from any one form of discrimination standing alone....”
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.
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.
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.