I am writing today to provide the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) submission on the government’s Proposed Regulatory Amendments under the Housing Services Act, 2011 – Reg. 367/11. The OHRC is committed to bringing a human rights perspective to government strategies aimed at addressing poverty, homelessness and hunger.
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.
The Human Rights Code requires proactive planning to prevent or remove barriers to people with disabilities and older adults in services. The OHRC has written to government ministers to encourage them to make sure people with disabilities and older adults will have the same opportunity as others to obtain the health card renewal online.
Today on Human Rights Day, the Law Commission of Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Commission announced a joint research and policy initiative to examine human rights issues in the development, use and governance of artificial intelligence and algorithms in Canada and specifically in Ontario.
The OHRC has submitted comments on the Information and Privacy Commission’s draft privacy guidance on facial recognition for police agencies.
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.
In its submission on the Toronto Police Services Board’s Use of Artificial Intelligence Technologies Policy, the OHRC recommends several actions for the TPSB to take in developing its AI Policy. Consistent with a human rights-based approach, these actions are aimed at protecting vulnerable and marginalized groups that may be disproportionately affected by AI technology used by the TPS. These actions are designed to insure against consequences that would undermine the desired benefits of police services’ efficiency and effectiveness, and public trust in policing.
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.”
The OHRC is concerned about the lack of oversight in Ontario’s prisons after the government’s recent decision to disband Community Advisory Boards (CABs). More independent and robust oversight is needed – not less.
June 14, 2021 – The OHRC is concerned about the unique implications that artificial intelligence (AI) presents to the human rights of Ontario’s marginalized and vulnerable communities, and has made a submission to Ontario’s public consultation on the Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence Framework.