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Ontario Launches New Human Rights System

Archived Backgrounder

Ontario Launches New Human Rights System

Backgrounder

Ministry of the Attorney General

ONTARIO'S HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM

A new and strengthened human rights system consisting of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and a new Human Rights Legal Support Centre is now working for the people of Ontario.

The new system is designed to resolve discrimination claims faster, provide individuals with legal support and help promote and advance human rights.

ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

With its new and enhanced role, the Ontario Human Rights Commission works to promote, protect and advance human rights in Ontario. Its main focus is to address broad and systemic issues of discrimination. Activities include research and monitoring, policy development, and education and training. The Commission also conducts targeted inquiries and may initiate applications or intervene in important cases before the Tribunal. Through outreach, cooperation and partnership the Commission aims to change systemic attitudes and build an active human rights culture. The Commission is located at 180 Dundas Street West in Toronto.

HUMAN RIGHTS TRIBUNAL OF ONTARIO

All claims of discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code are now dealt with through applications filed directly with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The Tribunal is an independent, neutral body that resolves applications through mediation or adjudication. Its vice-chairs and members have expertise in both human rights and modern dispute resolution techniques. The Tribunal's goal is to ensure all claims of discrimination are addressed in a timely way, and resolved fairly, based on the facts and the law.

The Tribunal's new hearing and mediation facilities, located at 655 Bay Street in Toronto, are fully accessible. The Tribunal will also hold mediations and hearings in regional hearing centres across the province.

HUMAN RIGHTS LEGAL SUPPORT CENTRE

The new Human Rights Legal Support Centre offers independent human rights legal support to individuals who believe their rights have been violated under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Staff at the Centre help claimants understand how the law applies to their situation, and assist them in completing new application forms before the Tribunal. The Centre's services are free for individual applicants who need them and range from legal assistance in filing an application at the Tribunal, to legal representation on discrimination applications. Claimants do not have to use the Centre's services and can file an application with the Tribunal without getting assistance from the Centre.

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre's fully accessible main office is located at 400 University Avenue, Toronto; however, its services are available to people across the province.

DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS IN TRANSITION

All discrimination applications are now to be filed directly with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. People who filed human rights complaints with the Ontario Human Rights Commission before June 30, 2008 that have not been completed can continue their complaint in one of two ways:

  • Drop their complaint with the Commission and file an application under an expedited process established by the Tribunal, between June 30 and December 31, 2008
  • Continue their complaint with the Commission until January 1, 2009 and then file a new application with the Tribunal through the regular process, if required.

For information on this transition process and the options, contact the Ontario Human Rights Commission at 1-800-387-9080 or TTY 1-800-308-5561.

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