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Video - What are Competing Rights?

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Transcript Competing Human Rights eLearning NARRATOR: Welcome to the Ontario Human Rights Commission's short video about competing human rights.

After you watch this video, you'll have a basic understanding about what competing human rights are. We'll also talk briefly about how to resolve competing human rights issues.

Let's look at an example.

National Aboriginal Day is on June 21, and an Aboriginal community centre planned to celebrate. It sent out notices encouraging staff and members of the Aboriginal community to take part in the event. Some community members who planned to attend requested that the day open with a traditional smudging ceremony, where a bundle of herbs would be burned.

Tala, a worker at the community centre, raised concern that she couldn't take part, because the smoke would aggravate her asthma.

On one hand, Tala has a right to attend the event without aggravating her asthma, because the Code requires her employer to accommodate her on the ground of disability. On the other hand, members of the Aboriginal community may argue that they have a right to accommodation under the Code-protected ground of creed. That's why this is may be a competing human rights issue.

How can we resolve this situation?

Both sides recognized the importance of each other's interests. The worker wanted the ceremony to proceed and the community members wanted the worker to take part. So they worked together and solved the problem by moving the opening ceremony outdoors and redirecting smoke away from the worker. This type of informal problem solving is called a “Quick resolution” process. In fact, the vast majority of competing human rights issues can be resolved this way – by working together to find a solution.

Where people understand their rights, recognize each other's claims and show respect for one another, the quick resolution process will usually be appropriate. The OHRC has developed a step-by-step framework for addressing competing rights. There are 3 stages in the full process: Recognizing competing rights claims, reconciling competing human rights claims and making decisions.

For quick resolution cases, the framework can be used for guidance and reference. In more complicated cases, or where the parties are less cooperative, the “full process” may be needed, and the framework should be applied in detail.

Thank you for watching this short video!

Want to know more? Detailed information about the step-by-step process for addressing competing human rights, including lots of examples, can be found in our interactive Competing human rights eLearning course. Click on the link to access it. You can also view the Policy and several other resources by clicking the links on your screen.

Competing Human Rights eLearning

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