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Implications for the Ontario Human Rights Commission

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The Commission is proposing to undertake the following actions and strategies in order to better promote the protection of human rights in insurance:

  • Cite principles and rulings in case law (see Appendix) that promote protection from discrimination in insurance on prohibited grounds of the Code;
  • Review current and new complaints in light of the decision in Zurich where the Supreme Court of Canada made it clear that the insurance industry should not continue indefinitely to use discriminatory criteria for rate setting, and that "the industry must strive to avoid setting premiums based on enumerated grounds";
  • Promote the principle that any newly proposed risk classification system, even if shown to be a better measure of risk, should at least not further contravene rights under Part I of the Code any more than any current classification system does. And in fact, any newly proposed system should strive to avoid determining risk based on enumerated grounds;
  • On a case by case basis, consider bringing forth complaints where there is only a “correlation” and no apparent “causal” connection between the alleged discriminatory risk factor and the intended purpose of the insurance;
  • Continue to monitor jurisprudence related to insurance and human rights law for implications relating to policy development and complaints before the Ontario Human Rights Commission;
  • Encourage the Superintendent of Financial Services to promote the protection of human rights in insurance;
  • Write to the Ministry of Labour requesting an amendment to Regulation 321 of the Employment Standards Act. Sub-section (8)(c) of the Regulation permits the exclusion of women but not men from sick and disability benefits under group insurance plans during pregnancy and parental leaves.
  • Write to the Attorney General of Ontario in support of the 1996 Study Paper on the Legal Aspects of Long-term Disability Insurance prepared for the Ontario Law Reform Commission, which recommends that there should be greater public control on underwriting criteria in insurance;
  • Forward copies of this Discussion Paper to industry representatives, consumer groups and government including the Financial Services Commission of Ontario and the Ministry of Finance for comment, as well as posting an electronic version to the Commission Web site for general public access;
  • Encourage the establishment of a joint industry, consumer and government mechanism that would promote dialogue on issues related to human rights in insurance on an ongoing basis.


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