TORONTO – Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released Building on the Legacy: Collaboration, Action and Accountability Towards an Inclusive Society, its 2022–2023 annual report. It is a snapshot of the actions taken and results achieved by the OHRC last year to build on its foundations through collaboration with vulnerable groups, other stakeholders, and duty-holders, as well as its work to be accountable to the public, and to create a more inclusive society for Ontarians.
As Ontario emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, significant societal challenges have remained. The pandemic amplified existing disparities in health, employment, housing precarity, and homelessness. These circumstances have heightened the urgency to advance human rights in society and institutions. It is more important now than ever for the OHRC to build on its legacy of leadership on human rights issues.
This report shares many of the results from the OHRC’s work with communities and stakeholders across Ontario to educate, raise awareness, and take action on human rights. Some of those results are highlighted below:
- Marking the one-year anniversary of the OHRC’s Right to Read inquiry report. The inquiry – the first of its kind in Canada – called for critical changes to Ontario’s approach to teaching early reading. After the release of the report, the Ministry of Education announced several positive measures to respond to the OHRC’s recommendations such as in October 2022, when new universal screening was put in place for reading for Ontario’s youngest learners.
- Making health and well-being a priority focus area in the OHRC’s work. Research has shown two issues which significantly impact health and well-being are the inability to exercise the right to housing and the inability to exercise the right to mental health and addiction disability care. These issues combined cause and sustain poverty. On March 14, 2023, the OHRC released an interim report titled Poverty POV: What we are hearing that highlighted and summarized some of the responses received from its survey concerning poverty.
- Recognizing a landmark decision – Ontario (Health) v Association of Ontario Midwives. The Court of Appeal for Ontario confirmed the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s decision that Ontario midwives experienced gender-based discrimination and should be compensated equitably to eliminate the gender wage gap.
- The release of a revitalized strategic plan for 2023–2025, Human Rights First: A plan for belonging in Ontario. It places belonging and intersectionality at the centre of human rights work, with an emphasis on building relationships and partnerships to achieve this. The plan outlines five key priority areas for continuing to protect, promote and advance human rights in Ontario.
“As society evolves and everyone recognizes how delicate our democracy is, I encourage Ontarians to join me in creating a place where everyone feels that they belong,” said OHRC Chief Commissioner Patricia DeGuire. “Governments, organizations and everyone in Ontario has a role in bringing about change. Everyone must intentionally play a part in making Ontario an inclusive society that benefits all.”
Nick Lombardi – Senior Strategic Communications Advisor
Ontario Human Rights Commission