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Special programs

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This section allows organizations and employers to create temporary special measures on a voluntary basis. The purpose of a special program is to help create opportunities for people who experience discrimination, economic hardship and disadvantage.[31]

Landlords, service providers and other organizations may start their own special programs. No special or advance approval by the OHRC is needed. The OHRC encourages the development of special programs as an effective way to help reduce discrimination and address historical disadvantage. Organizations can learn more about how to develop special programs from the OHRC’s publication Special programs and the Ontario Human Rights Code – A self-help guide.

To be a special program, the program must meet one of the following conditions:

  • it must relieve hardship or economic disadvantage, or
  • help disadvantaged people achieve, or try to achieve, equal opportunity, or
  • help eliminate discrimination.

If a special program does not meet one of these conditions, it may be deemed invalid by the OHRC, the Tribunal or another judicial body.

Examples of special programs include:

  • programs designed to promote the hiring and advancement of women in a welding shop
  • programs designed to encourage the enrolment of Aboriginal students in a university.

An organization may be required to create a special program as a result of a human rights claim made against them.

Special programs must be developed carefully and with clear reasons about why a particular group is chosen for special assistance.

[31] See the OHRC’s Special programs and the Ontario Human Rights Code – A self-help guide (2010).

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