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Moving forward on the Correctional Services’ Human Rights Project Charter

We continued our work with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (Correctional Services) and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) on a Human Rights Project Charter. This long-term organizational change project, which arose from the settlement of a long-standing human rights complaint, has now been extended to 2017.

Over the past year, Correctional Services, with support from the OHRC and MGCS, has done critical planning and begun to put in place some of the major human rights initiatives to be implemented between now and 2017. This includes creating criteria and long-term strategies for developing and reviewing policies and programs from human rights and Indigenous perspectives. Similar work has begun on reviewing Correctional Services’ training curricula. We have also worked on plans for evaluating the outcomes of the Human Rights Plan and longer-term human rights organizational change.

Correctional Services’ human rights staff have also provided input into the review and updating of dozens of employment and operational policies in  institutional and community services.

Continuing to help organizations look at the big picture

We work with organizations to bring about “big-picture” changes by helping them learn to use a human rights lens in their work. The goal is to identify human rights barriers, remove them and prevent future human rights problems from arising.

Over the past year, we continued this kind of work in policing. We wrapped up our three-year project charter with the Windsor Police Service, and continued our efforts on race-based data collection with the Ottawa Police Service. This latter initiative is now being described as the largest study of its kind in the history of Canadian policing. We have also had ongoing discussions with Ontario Provincial Police about a potential human rights charter, like those in Windsor and Toronto, and have an ongoing partnership with the Ontario Police College to develop new human rights training and support existing training.

We are also involved in a new initiative with the Workplace Safety Prevention Services, arms-length government agency. This partnership will establish important new linkages to employers. We will work together to look at overlapping/complementary mandates, and the relationship between the Human Rights Code, workplace harassment legislation and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

Extending the big-picture view

We are increasingly being asked to provide advice on organizational policies. Recent work in this area includes:

  • Meeting with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to discuss concerns around a “red flag” list that would cause investigators to begin covert surveillance of some injured workers. A community legal clinic wrote to us with concerns that the list appeared to contravene the Code. WSIB has confirmed that the list is no longer in use and that all references to it have now been removed. WSIB is to share new draft guidelines with us, for comment and advice.
  • Recommendations for the Child and Family Services Act review.
  • A submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons on its policy on “Physicians and the Human Rights Code,” aimed at helping physicians understand their rights and obligations under the Code and to set out the College’s expectation that physicians will respect the fundamental rights of individuals and patients who seek medical services. The College adopted many of our suggestions.
  • Several submissions to different bodies on Police Use of Force and Mental Health, including to the Ombudsman and the OIPRD.

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