(Information Current as of March 30, 2018)
The Ontario Human Rights Code is for everyone. It is a provincial law that gives everybody equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in areas such as jobs, housing and services. The Code’s goal is to prevent discrimination and harassment because of race, sex, disability and age, to name a few of the 17 grounds. All other Ontario laws must agree with the Code.
The Code was one of the first laws of its kind in Canada. Before 1962, various laws dealt with different kinds of discrimination. The Code brought them together into one law and added some new protections.
In June 2008, major changes designed to renew Ontario’s human rights system came into effect. Ontario’s human rights system now consists of three separate and independent parts:
the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
the Human Rights Legal Support Centre
the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the Tribunal) decides if someone’s human rights have been violated. If you think your rights under the Code have been violated, you can file a complaint – called an application – directly with the Tribunal. The Tribunal will decide the best way to deal with your situation. It may also decide that your rights have not been violated or that it does not have the power to deal with your case.
The Human Rights Legal Support Centre (the Legal Support Centre) helps people who file applications with the Tribunal. Services may include advice, support and legal representation.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the OHRC) works to identify the root causes of discrimination, and to bring about broad, systemic change to remove them. It develops policies and provides public education, monitors human rights, does research and analysis, and conducts human rights public interest inquiries. While it does not deal with individual human rights complaints, the OHRC may take its own cases, or intervene in human rights cases before tribunals or courts on issues of broad public interest.
What to do if you feel you have been discriminated against
If you think you have experienced discrimination, you can make a complaint. You must file an "application" with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The application asks you to explain what happened to you and why you feel it is a violation of the Code. The Tribunal will try to help you settle the matter through "mediation". Mediation is a meeting with you and the person you have complained about. A person called a mediator tries to help you work through the complaint. If it cannot be settled at mediation, you will have a hearing at the Tribunal and a decision will be made. If you are not satisfied with the decision, it may be possible to take the matter to court. You will want to get legal advice to do so.
Our Clinic offers information, advice and representation to low income individuals and families with respect to Human Rights issues that fall under one of the our areas of our mandate (eg. Landlord and Tenant, WSIB, etc.).
This site provides general information only, specific to Ontario, Canada. It is NOT legal advice. Laws, practices and policies change over time. The applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. You should get legal advice for your particular situation.
Please call us or a lawyer in your area for advice on your particular situation.