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Human Rights In Ontario

Archived Backgrounder

Human Rights In Ontario

Ministry of the Attorney General

All Ontarians have a right to live free from discrimination, inequality and intolerance.

The protection of human rights is a fundamental principle in Ontario. The amendments Ontario made to its human rights system in 2008 represent the most substantive changes to the system in its 50-year history.


In its new role, the Ontario Human Rights Commission focuses on promoting, protecting and advancing human rights by addressing the underlying causes of discrimination. Through outreach, education, cooperation and partnership, the Commission takes a proactive, preventive approach to reducing human rights violations. 


The Human Rights Tribunal now provides individuals with human rights claims with direct access to expert adjudicators who can help resolve cases fairly, quickly and more affordably. The goal of the Human Rights Tribunal is to resolve the majority of cases within one year.

Achievements over the past three years include the following:

  • Of the new applications resolved by the Tribunal since June 2008, approximately 80 per cent were resolved within one year. This is a significant improvement over the previous system, where a claim could take as long as five years to be resolved.
  • In its first full year, the Tribunal held 1,200 voluntary mediations with a 67 per cent settlement rate.
  • The Tribunal has also completed more than 89 per cent of the transitional cases that had been launched at the Commission under the old system. 
  • The Tribunal is providing mediations and hearings at 12 regional centres across Ontario, and over 75 per cent of new applications it received came from people living outside Toronto. 
  • Among the leading grounds of discrimination claimed were disability, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), race, colour, ethnicity or place of origin, and ancestry.


The Human Rights Legal Support Centre helps those who would otherwise have difficulty accessing justice.

  • In its first full year of operation, the Legal Support Centre provided information or advice to more than 20,000 Ontarians. It continues to respond to approximately 100 inquiries daily from individuals who need assistance in protecting their rights.
  • The Legal Support Centre also helps people to settle claims before an application needs to be filed at the Tribunal.  When attempted, this early intervention is fully or partially settling complaints more than 70 per cent of the time.
  • In their first full year, the Tribunal and Legal Support Centre collectively responded to almost 80,000 telephone inquiries. 

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