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.
COVID-19 and human rights
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.
While receiving a COVID-19 vaccine remains voluntary, the OHRC takes the position that mandating and requiring proof of vaccination to protect people at work or when receiving services is generally permissible under the Human Rights Code (Code) as long as protections are put in place to make sure people who are unable to be vaccinated for Code-related reasons are reasonably accommodated.
The OHRC responded to a second request from Seniors for Social Action Ontario for the OHRC to undertake a section 31 public interest inquiry into the institutionalization of older adults in Ontario.
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.
The OHRC is concerned about accounts from members of Ontario’s South Asian communities of hate and stigmatization in reaction to the ongoing COVID-19 humanitarian crisis in India.
The OHRC is concerned that the most recent expansion of police discretionary power to enforce the latest “stay-at-home order” will likely result in a disproportionate impact on members of marginalized and vulnerable communities.
The OHRC responded to a request from Seniors for Social Action Ontario for the OHRC to undertake a section 31 public interest inquiry into the institutionalization of older adults in Ontario.