TORONTO, Sept. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario Human Rights Commission
(OHRC) today released Minds that matter: Report on the consultation on human rights, mental
health and addictions. This report outlines what the OHRC heard in its largest-ever policy
consultation across Ontario, and sets out a number of key
recommendations and OHRC commitments to address human rights issues
that affect people with mental health disabilities or addictions.
The OHRC heard about widespread discrimination in housing, employment
and services. It heard that stereotypes and negative societal
perceptions about people with psychiatric and addiction disabilities
are embedded in institutional policies and practices, individual
attitudes and some types of legislation. The OHRC also found that many
organizations do not appear to understand how to meet their
responsibilities under the Human Rights Code to prevent and respond to this discrimination.
Similarly, many people with mental health or addiction issues were not
aware of how the Human Rights Code protects them from discrimination based on disability. We also heard
that people have great difficulty enforcing their human rights.
Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall said, "Upholding the human rights of
people with mental health disabilities or addictions is a good thing to
do. It's the right thing to do. In Ontario, it is also the required
thing to do - it's the law."
The OHRC also heard how societal factors create the conditions for
discriminating against or excluding people with mental health issues or
addictions. Poverty was a clear theme in people's lives. People with
mental health issues or addictions in Ontario are much more likely to
have low incomes than people with other types of disabilities or
without disabilities. The OHRC heard that having a low income
contributes to even more barriers to housing, services and job
This report was written to reflect the experiences and perspectives of
hundreds of people with mental health or addiction disabilities, as
well as the viewpoints of employers, housing and service providers,
advocates and other groups. Overcoming discriminatory barriers requires
the concerted efforts of law-makers, policy makers, and all levels of
public and private institutions.
"When we consult directly with the people most affected by the issues,
the impact is deeply personal," said Sheldon Levy, President of Ryerson
University. "Social justice and inclusion are fundamental principles,
and the OHRC is taking leadership in engaging all of us to work
together for change."
The report contains 54 recommendations for government and organizations
across Ontario. For example, the OHRC recommends that municipalities
across Ontario review their zoning and housing licensing bylaws to make
sure they do not treat housing for people with mental health issues or
addictions any differently than other types of housing. The OHRC also
calls for the Government of Ontario to address its obligations under
the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with
Minds that matter also sets out 26 commitments that the OHRC is making to advance human
rights for persons with mental health disabilities or addictions. One
commitment is to create a policy on human rights, mental health and
addictions that will offer concrete steps people and organizations
across Ontario can take to prevent and eliminate barriers that are so
common today. Also, the OHRC will invite a psychiatric institution, as
well as other partners with human rights expertise in mental health,
including consumer/survivor organizations, to take part in a
large-scale organizational change process to address any human rights
concerns in the way they deliver service.
The OHRC received over 1,500 verbal and written submissions from across
Ontario - but the job is not yet done. To help with developing its
policy, the OHRC wants to hear feedback on the consultation report.
Individuals and organizations are invited to provide their comments in
writing by November 9, 2012. For more information, see the OHRC's
website at www.ohrc.on.ca.
Aussi disponible en français
SOURCE: Ontario Human Rights Commission
For further information:
Ontario Human Rights Commission