In Ontario, human rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The Ontario Human Rights Code is Ontario’s anti-discrimination law. It is illegal for anyone to discriminate against another person on the basis of:
- Place of origin;
- Ethnic origin;
- Creed (religion);
- Sexual orientation;
- Marital Status;
- Family Status;
- Receipt of public assistance (in accommodation only); or
- Record of offences (in employment only).
All people have the right to be treated fairly in employment, accommodation, goods, services and facilities, contracts, and membership in vocational associations.
You cannot be punished or threatened with punishment for trying to exercise your rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) hears complaints of discrimination based on the grounds in the Ontario Human Rights Code. Human Rights complaints are filed and decided at the HRTO.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission educates the public about discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code. It is an arm’s length agency of the provincial government.
Contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) for free legal support about your situation if you believe you have been discriminated against on the grounds mentioned in the Ontario Human Rights Code.
If you suffer discrimination based on any of these grounds, contact the HRTO to make a complaint or to get more information at 1-866-598-0322.
Human rights in Ontario
Ontario’s Human Rights Code is a provincial law that gives everybody equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific social areas such as jobs, housing, services, facilities, and contracts or agreements.
The Code’s goal is to prevent discrimination and harassment because of race, sex, disability, and age, to name a few of the 17 grounds. All other Ontario laws must agree with the Code.
Not all unfair treatment and harassment is covered by the Code. The treatment or harassment must be based on at least one Code ground and take place within a social area to be protected.
The Ontario Human Rights System is made up of three separate agencies:
- The Ontario Human Rights Commission works to promote, protect and advance human rights through research, education, targeted legal action and policy development.
- The Human Rights Legal Support Centre gives legal help to people who have experienced discrimination under the Code.
- The Human Rights Tribunal is where human rights applications are filed and decided.
About the HRTO
If you believe you have experienced discrimination or harassment, you can file an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). The HRTO resolves claims of discrimination and harassment brought under the Human Rights Code in a fair, just and timely way. The HRTO first offers parties the opportunity to settle the dispute through mediation. If the parties do not agree to mediation, or mediation does not resolve the application, the HRTO holds a hearing.
The HRTO is one of the eight tribunals that make up Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO).
Welcome to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre
The Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) offers human rights legal services to individuals throughout Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario’s Human Rights Code. Our services may include legal assistance in filing applications at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), and legal representation at mediations and hearings.