January 23 is the deadline to make a request to present at a public meeting for the Ontario Human Rights Review.
In 2006, the Human Rights Code Amendment Act (formerly called Bill 107), came into effect in Ontario. This Act made three significant changes to the human rights system in Ontario. Firstly, human rights complaints are now filed directly with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), which is responsible for processing the applications, offering mediation services and, where the application remains unresolved, adjudicating the application on its merits.
The second significant change is that the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) no longer receives complaints; rather, their focus is on developing policies, providing information and education and promoting compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Code. The OHRC retained its authority to initiate and intervene in applications before the HRTO. Thirdly, a new agency was created, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC), to assist applicants with advice, support and representation with regards to applications before the HRTO.
Furthermore, Section 57 of the revised Ontario Human Rights Code requires that the new human rights system be reviewed three years after coming into effect. In August 2011, the Honourable Chris Bentley, then Attorney General of Ontario, appointed Andrew Pinto to conduct a review of the new human rights system in Ontario. A website and a consultation paper have been released that details the process of the review.
All Ontarians, especially individuals who have used the services of the HRTO, OHRC and HRLSC, are encouraged to participate in the review process, through written submissions, through oral remarks at public meetings, and oral remarks at stakeholder meetings. The deadline for written submissions is March 1.
Public meetings are taking place across Ontario at the following locations: Windsor (February 13), London (February 14), Toronto (February 15 and 24), Ottawa (February 16), Sudbury (February 21), and Thunder Bay (February 23).
For more information about the review, visit www.ontariohumanrightsreview.org.
To access the public consultation paper, visit www.ontariohumanrightsreview.org.