The human rights system needs better coordination states the findings from the Ontario Human Rights Review 2012, released on November 8, 2012.
In August 2011, the Government of Ontario appointed Andrew Pinto to conduct a review of the new human rights system in Ontario. A website and a consultation paper were released that detailed the process of the review. Ontarians, especially individuals who have used the services of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and Ontario Human Rights Commission, were encouraged to participate in the review process through written submissions, oral remarks at public meetings, and oral remarks at stakeholder meetings.
The report prepared by Andrew Pinto was informed by public meetings held in Windsor, London, Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury and Thunder Bay, as well as approximately 25 stakeholder meetings, and over 60 written submissions that were received.
The report highlights several themes that emerged during the consultation process:
- The Human Rights Legal Support Centre is simply not able to meet all of the demand for its services. However, when the Centre provides advice and representation to clients, it offers high quality services;
- Related to the first point, there are many applicants who are self-represented at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario whereas respondents are almost always represented;
- The Tribunal has been effective at ensuring that applications are resolved relatively quickly. However, it needs to find a better way to deal effectively with applications that clearly have no merit;
- The Tribunal’s forms and rules are too complex;
- More public education and information on the human rights system is needed, particularly for vulnerable individuals and in marginalized communities;
- The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s revised role is poorly understood by the public and it appears to have disengaged from the private employment sector;
- The Commission is not adequately involved in litigation at the Tribunal;
- The three agencies- the Tribunal, Centre and Commission – are poorly coordinated with respect to each other’s mandate; and
- The human rights system as a whole needs better coordination.
To access the full report, visit www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca.
For more information about the Ontario Human Rights Review 2012, visit www.ontariohumanrightsreview.org.