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Adjudication Boards Built Human Rights into Decisions

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June 18, 2009

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For immediate publication

Toronto - Recent settlements of complaints with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing show an emerging commitment to human rights, the Ontario Human Rights Commission reports. The settlements follow the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Tranchemontagne v. the Ministry of Community and Social Services. In that decision, the Court told the Social Benefits Tribunal to apply the Code to resolve the issue before it. The Supreme Court stressed the primacy of the Code over other Ontario laws, unless the legislation governing the body expressly states that the Code will not prevail.

In the case of Giresh Patel v. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Mr. Patel, a Hindu, was deemed by a Board adjudicator to have refused suitable work offered by his employer, even though this work involved food handling processes that were contrary to his religious beliefs. After Mr Patel filed a human rights complaint against the ruling, the Board agreed to work with the OHRC to provide direction to its decision-makers, so that human rights considerations are taken into account when decisions are made on claims before the Board.

The case of Carlo v. the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing involved a complaint by Mr. Carlo that the services of the Landlord and Tenant Board were not accessible to him. He had requested a number of accommodations based on disability such as producing documents in large print. As part of a settlement, the Board has agreed to review its procedures for receiving, processing and hearing applications, as well as for issuing decisions and releasing records, to make sure all of these steps are consistent with the Human Rights Code.

“I am pleased to see Boards apply the Code to their work,” said Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall. “All Boards have a responsibility to apply human rights in their decisions. We will continue to work in partnership with Boards and other Ontario Government agencies to help them avoid future human rights complaints; by working together, we can better serve all Ontarians.”

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Afroze Edwards
Sr. Communications Officer
Communications and Issues Management
(416) 314-4528