The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) found that the Ontario Provincial Police discriminated based on race, colour and place of origin when it conducted a DNA sweep of migrant workers in a sexual assault investigation in Elgin County, Ontario in 2013. Logan v Ontario (OPP) was the lead case in a series of 54 applications brought by migrant workers relating to the DNA sweep. The OHRC was an intervenor in the proceeding, supporting the migrant workers.
In its August 15, 2022 decision, the HRTO held that race, colour and place of origin were factors in the OPP’s conduct, contrary to s. 1 of the Ontario Human Rights Code. The HRTO noted in particular that the OPP sought and collected DNA from all migrant workers, regardless of whether they met the victim’s description or had an alibi, and the OPP failed to adequately ensure that vulnerable workers were able to provide voluntary and informed consent to the DNA collection. The HRTO’s decision also recognized the broader discrimination faced by migrant workers and their precarious position working under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), all within the larger context of anti-Black racism in society.
The HRTO’s decision relied in part on the OHRC’s Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement, noting that the OPP’s disregard of other aspects of the victim’s description in favour of race, also “raises concerns of racial profiling under the OHRC policy.”
“Migrant workers are among the most vulnerable workers in Ontario, and we must continue to offer them the protections that all workers and community members are entitled to,” said OHRC Chief Commissioner Patricia DeGuire. “The OHRC is pleased with the result because of the historical challenges of establishing race-based cases.”
The hearing was split into two parts, and the next step will be an evidentiary and legal hearing on appropriate non-monetary and public interest remedies.
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