I am writing today to stress the important role that human rights principles should play in any reviews of Ontario government and long-term care service provider responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is providing this written deputation to the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) in response to its August 11, 2020, report on Police Reform in Toronto: Systemic Racism, Alternative Community Safety and Crisis Response Models and Building New Confidence in Public Safety and the recommendations it contains (Police Reform Report), which are being considered for approval at its August 18, 2019, meeting.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is writing to express its concern about the anti-loitering by-law that is currently being considered by Kenora City Council. The OHRC urges Kenora City Council to reject this by-law, which will likely have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable and homeless people in Kenora, the large majority of whom are Indigenous peoples. Moreover, the by-law will not solve the homelessness crisis or other social issues facing Kenora.
While we are pleased to see the announcement on June 15, 2020, that Ontario is expanding data collection to include race, income, language and household size for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, in our view, these categories do not go far enough. We reiterate the importance of meaningful consultation on data collection and involving Code-protected and other vulnerable groups who are at heightened risk.
The unprecedented closure of schools has been difficult for all students. The OHRC has heard from stakeholders that students with special education needs and other vulnerabilities have experienced unique and compounded challenges, that their circumstances have not consistently been considered and addressed, and that as a result, they have fallen even further behind than their peers. It is imperative that the MOE and school boards establish plans and programs to systematically and consistently address the needs of students with disabilities for the 2020 – 2021 school year.
Given the vital work ahead with the plan to reopen schools, the OHRC is calling on the government to convene a Return-to-School Partnership Table to provide advice, input and expertise on implementing plans for Ontario’s students, educators and school boards from the perspective of Code-protected groups. The OHRC also recommends that the Ministry advise school boards to convene similar local tables to ensure that board-specific plans meet the needs of all students.
The OHRC and MERC are encouraged by the government’s announcement that more than $500 million will be invested in Ontario’s correctional system over the next five years, and urge you to allocate this investment in a way that directly improves the on-the-ground conditions prisoners and front-line staff face every day in Ontario.
Given the vulnerability of tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic, the OHRC wants to remind the Greater Sudbury Landlord Association and the City of Greater Sudbury as a housing service manager and OW administrator, of their human rights obligations relating to rental housing.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is responding to the notice of proposed amendments to Ontario Regulation 329/04 made under the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). Among other things, the proposed amendments prescribe elements for collecting, using and reporting personal health information collected through the electronic health record.
The OHRC welcomes the proposed amendment to Ontario Regulation 569 made under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) that would require collecting information on race, income level, language and household size for people who test positive for a novel coronavirus, including COVID-19. The OHRC recommends the ministry consider expanding the required collection of information to include other vulnerable populations identified in Ontario’s Human Rights Code.