OHRC Community Engagement Strategy: 2019 Update
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) approved a Community Engagement Strategy, Communities for change, in 2018 and also committed to reviewing it on an annual basis. This Update summarizes the results of the 2019 review.
A new environment
By adopting and adhering to its engagement strategy, the OHRC has deepened its relationships with a broad range of individuals and organizations, including NGOs, community groups, Indigenous peoples, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) and other statutory human rights institutions.
The OHRC remains committed to the core activities outlined in Communities for change. In this update, we identify the following opportunities and priorities for engagement, considering the limitations arising from new government directives:
- Prioritize travel outside Toronto that is critical to Commissioner-approved initiatives
- Prioritize travel related to OHRC’s membership in the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA)
- Seek support from the requesting party for travel and accommodation costs associated with OHRC training or speaking, where appropriate
- Explore third-party support for regionally diverse community members to attend the annual Community Advisory Group (CAG) Summit
- Attend large gatherings of Indigenous leaders, such as Annual General Meetings, Chiefs’ Assemblies, etc.
- Continue to leverage approved travel opportunities to engage in fact-finding tours and activities
- Seek a municipal host and/or third-party sponsor for “Taking it Local” training
- Deepen and expand our reach through traditional and social media.
Engagement with human rights duty holders
For 2019 – 2020, the OHRC will prioritize creating durable and reciprocal relationships with duty holders. The OHRC’s Strategic Plan 2017 – 2022 commits it to:
- Provide practical guidance to facilitate duty holders’ compliance with human rights obligations in practice, with a particular focus on employers
- Continue to provide education and outreach to help duty holders and others understand and act on their human rights and responsibilities.
Building on the OHRC’s ongoing collaboration with the Human Rights Professionals Association (HRPA) and based on the success of the CAG, the OHRC will explore creating a “Duty-holders Advisory Group” (DAG) pursuant to s. 31.5 of the Code. The DAG would provide for more robust communication between duty holders and the OHRC, and help identify and apply best practices, and createproducts that allow employers to meet their human rights obligations.
Initiative-specific advisory groups
Consistent with its commitment to put people at the centre of its decisions, in 2019 the OHRC will bring together advisory steering committees comprised of Commissioners, CAG members, Elders/leaders, and people with lived experience in priority areas. These advisory steering committees will guide staff in implementing Commissioner-approved initiatives.