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Letter to Ontario government ministers on the OHRC’s Policy statement on human rights in COVID-19 recovery planning

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November 9, 2021

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The Honourable Lisa M. Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
The Honourable Doug Downey, Attorney General
The Honourable Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
The Honourable Parm Gill, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism
The Honourable Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities
The Honourable Victor Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
The Honourable Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education
The Honourable David Piccini, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks
The Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance
The Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services  
The Honourable Christine Elliott, Minister of Health
The Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs
The Honourable Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
The Honourable Rod Phillips, Minister of Long-Term Care
The Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
The Honourable Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
The Honourable Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General
The Honourable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Treasury Board Secretariat

Dear Ministers and President of the Treasury Board Secretariat:

Re: Policy statement on human rights in COVID-19 recovery planning

On November 9, 2021, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released its Policy statement on human rights in COVID-19 recovery planning. The OHRC is sharing this statement with you as we believe it will help to guide your ministry's pandemic recovery efforts.

The statement is designed to better understand and address the systemic challenges that have come to define this moment in history. It provides practical advice for implementing COVID-19 recovery planning in a way that respects and protects the full range of human rights, so that everyone benefits from placing substantive equality and human rights at the core of recovery planning.

The policy statement outlines how Ontario’s Human Rights Code gives everyone equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in areas such as jobs, housing and services, and goes on to clarify the obligations of governments, service providers, housing providers and employers to take positive action towards substantive equality in their recovery planning efforts.

The statement also introduces six key principles along with potential policy and program actions consistent with a human-rights based approach to COVID-19 recovery.

Using a human rights-based approach to recovery planning offers a unique opportunity to benefit everyone, including racialized, marginalized and disproportionately affected groups, for generations to come.

Last, the OHRC understands that the government has established several pandemic recovery-focused tables. We would welcome an opportunity to present this work at those forums.


Patricia DeGuire
Chief Commissioner

cc:       OHRC Commissioners