Mounting evidence shows that groups identified under Ontario’s Human Rights Code have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. These effects are being exacerbated by the current Omicron wave and the recent decisions to close and reopen schools.
2021 has been a year of recovery, human rights challenges and adapting to the new normal. Through it, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has relentlessly continued to address pervasive inequities and systemic discrimination and racism with measures grounded in the Ontario Human Rights Code. As the journey continues, take a moment to look at some of the highlighted work of the OHRC from 2021.
On November 9, 2021, the OHRC released its Policy statement on human rights in COVID-19 recovery planning. The OHRC has shared this statement with ministers across all relevant sectors, as we believe it will help guide their ministry’s pandemic recovery efforts.
Engaging the human rights principles contained in the OHRC Policy statement on human rights in COVID-19 recovery planning will result in evidence- and human rights-informed approaches to recovery planning, policy and program design. Rooting the pandemic recovery in human rights principles and proactively taking equity into account will support governments and service providers in meeting their legal obligations to eliminate discrimination and advance substantive equality.
The OHRC is pleased that the university states it intends to robustly review the University Mandated Leave of Absence Policy (UMLAP). We urge the U of T to take the time to make sure it conducts a proper review, which includes the components in this letter, to identify and address human rights concerns that may arise from the UMLAP and its implementation.
The OHRC is concerned that the Township of Brock’s Interim Control By-law 2994-2020 to "prohibit the establishment of Supportive Housing and Modular Construction, including Manufactured Dwelling Houses" creates barriers to establishing and accessing supportive housing, which may be discriminatory under the Human Rights Code. The OHRC calls on Council to remove any barriers that have a discriminatory effect as soon as possible, and to allow such supportive housing projects to proceed.
The OHRC is pleased that the City of Toronto’s proposed framework for multi-tenant houses implements human rights principles and “would establish city-wide permissions for multi-tenant houses.”
June 4, 2021 – On April 23, 2021, Ontario’s Ministry of the Solicitor General announced proposed amendments to Regulation 778 under the Ministry of Correctional Services Act, which governs the operation of Ontario’s adult correctional institutions. The Ontario Human Rights Commission welcomes the opportunity to provide this submission, which focuses primarily on the segregation amendments.
To keep Ontario’s people and communities safe, it is critical for Ontario’s justice sector to once again make sure the prison custody numbers come down and stay down.
On March 12, 2021, the OHRC wrote to Solicitor General Jones to make a submission to the ministry’s review of Regulations under the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 to determine whether any of the prescribed temporary exemptions should continue, be narrowed or removed.