Human Rights Review & Public Consultation; With AODA under way OPC Recommends you Participate

BACKGROUND & Relationship with the AODA

Ontario’s human rights system changed substantially with amendments to the Code which came into effect on June 30, 2008. As of that date, the human rights system in Ontario became a “direct access” system whereby customers, employees, clients and the public who wanted to file an application are able to file the application directly with the adjudicative body that hears them, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO).
In accordance with the requirements of section 57, the Attorney General for Ontario  appointed Mr. Pinto as Chair of the process which allows for a review of the implementation along with reviewing the effectiveness of these amendments since 2008.

THE CONSULTATION PAPER

As per the language in section 57 of the Human Rights Code, the Consultation Paper notes that the purpose of the review is to examine the implementation and effectiveness of the changes resulting from the enactment of the amended Code.

The mandate is to focus on the extent to which the current system is delivering against universally desirable objectives such as access to justice, transparent adjudication, timely disposition of cases, and the elimination of systemic discrimination.

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The Paper requests that “comments be focused on the implementation and effectiveness of the changes brought about by the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2006.”

The Paper sets out a number of questions for consideration in the review, including:

  • whether the new system is accessible and easy to use;
  • whether the redesigned HRTO is providing quicker and direct access for applicants and a fair dispute resolution process for all parties;
  • should the Tribunal decide to award costs in the future, whether it would be fair to make an unsuccessful party pay (or partially pay) the successful party’s legal costs; and
  • whether the Ontario Human Rights Commission is proactively addressing systemic human rights issues.

OPC’s Consulting Team Recommends Employers Participate in the Review particularly as this is how the AODA Regulations will be “tested”

The Consultation Paper sets out the process by which any interested parties may participate in the review; by sending written submissions, and by making oral remarks at a public meeting or, if invited to participate, at a stakeholder meeting.

Public meetings are scheduled on the following dates:

  • ­Windsor – F­ebruary 13
  • London – February 14
  • Toronto – February 15 and 24
  • Ottawa – February 16
  • Sudbury – February 21
  • Thunder Bay – February 23

Details regarding public participation in the review process are found in the Consultation Paper.
Implications for Our Clients

Many employers and service providers in Ontario have now had significant experience responding to applications filed with the HRTO. The majority of applications made to the HRTO are related to lack of accommodation for disabilities.  Given the timing of the mandatory AODA Regulations and the fact these will be “tested” more so through the HRTO process it is OPC’s Accessibility Expert’s opinion that your organization should consider making written submissions & participating in the public meetings. The review process presents an excellent opportunity for employers and service providers to provide feedback on their experiences in the new system as well as how the system may help or hinder your business’s ability to succeed in light of accessibility and accommodation requirements now ensconced in Ontario law.

Need to learn more about accommodation and accessibility? Contact one of our ergonomic and accessibility experts at OPC Inc AODA@OptimalPerformance.ca or 416 860-0002.

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