The Ontario government has proposed important amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) that will expand human rights protection for vulnerable Ontarians.
HALCO is part of a coalition of community organizations that provided submissions to the government supporting the amendments and urging the government to pass the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2017 (Bill 164).
The Bill calls for the extension of human rights protection against discrimination in Ontario by adding prohibited grounds:
- social condition, which includes employment status, income level, housing status (e.g., homelessness), and education level, which would send a powerful message that low income people are human beings who deserve to be treated with equal respect
- immigration status, which would strengthen and explicitly recognize the current protection from discrimination based on citizenship, and would recognize the growing population of people with precarious immigration status, including migrant workers and live-in caregivers
- police records, which would meaningfully enhance protections for vulnerable Ontarians and also recognize the adverse impact of criminalization on certain racialized communities including Indigenous peoples and people of African descent, as well as people with mental health challenges
- genetic characteristics, which would bring Ontario’s Code in line with recent amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived difference in genetic information, and would include protection for people who refuse to undergo or disclose the results of a genetic test.
You can read the coalition submissions on our website: www.halco.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Human_Rights_Amend-Submissions-2017Dec.pdf.
You can read Bill 164 on the Ontario government website: http://ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&Intranet=&BillID=5136.
Our partners in the coalition, who are all working to promote racial equity and racial justice in Ontario, are:
- Colour of Poverty–Colour of Change
- Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
- Income Security Advocacy Centre, and
- the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
If you are living with HIV in Ontario and have questions about this or other legal issues, please contact us for free legal advice.