Bill proposes adding social condition to Ontario Human Rights Code
October 4, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Canada Without Poverty (CWP) has learned that Nathalie Des Rosiers, MPP for Ottawa-Vanier, has introduced a bill adding social condition as a ground of protection to Ontario’s Human Rights Code.
The Bill defines social condition as social or economic disadvantage resulting from one’s employment status, source or level of income, housing status – including homelessness, level of education, or any other related socio-economic disadvantage.
While Ontario’s Human Rights Code currently protects prospective tenants from being denied housing based on their receipt of social assistance, it does not extend these protections to other groups suffering social or economic disadvantage or in the area of employment and services. If the Bill becomes law people in the province experiencing discrimination in employment, housing, and services because of their social condition will have access to justice through the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario for the first time.
“Adding social condition to Ontario’s Human Rights Code is a major step forward in the protection of human rights for some of the most marginalized people in the province who will now be able to challenge the daily assault on their dignity,” said Leilani Farha, Executive Director of CWP.
“This Bill has the potential to make a real difference to those who are unemployed, homeless, poor, or lacking education and would send a clear message across Ontario: discrimination based on socio-economic status is not acceptable.”
CWP believes that if this Bill becomes law, the real life impact would be substantial by giving individuals access to the Tribunal for discrimination claims, such as when denied an application for apartment rental because of precarious or contract employment, or for a survivor of domestic violence denied housing due to poor credit resulting from their abuse. The Bill could also extend Code protections to ensure that people who are homeless feel more welcome using public services like libraries and washrooms.
This Bill would put Ontario in the company of other provinces and territories, like Québec, New Brunswick, and the Northwest Territories, which have all recognized social condition as a ground of discrimination within their human rights legislation. The government of Canada has yet to recognize social condition within the Canadian Human Rights Act, despite the recommendation of former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Gérard LaForest.
“In keeping with our international human rights obligations and recommendations of United Nations treaty bodies, Canada Without Poverty has long called for social condition to be added to all provincial, territorial, and national human rights acts,” said Ms. Farha.
About Canada Without Poverty
Canada Without Poverty (CWP) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, and charitable organization dedicated to ending poverty in Canada. The organization was created in 1971 as an outcome of the Poor People’s Conference, a national gathering of low-income individuals, under the name National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO). For over 40 years, CWP has been championing the rights of individuals experiencing poverty and marginalization through research, awareness-building campaigns, public policy development, and educational programming. See more at: www.cwp-csp.ca.
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