OHRC Annual report looks at mental health, bias-free policing, work on gender identity issues

TORONTO, June 11, 2015 /CNW/ - The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released OHRC Today, its 2014-2015 Annual Report, which focuses on mental health disabilities and addictions, bias-free policing and its work across Ontario on gender identity and gender expression issues.

Commenting on today's release, Interim OHRC Chief Commissioner Ruth Goba said, "This year's annual report gives an overview of the extensive work we have done over the past 12 months to advance human rights across Ontario. We continue to seek ideas and solutions to maximize existing potential and inspire new possibilities so that all Ontarians feel they can contribute and take part fully in our community."

This past year, the OHRC saw many changes, including saying farewell to former Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall after almost a decade of inspired leadership. The OHRC also celebrated several human rights achievements, such as our work in the area of mental health disabilities and addictions, and the growing understanding and acceptance of the transgender community.

Key highlights of this year's report include:

  • Travelling across the province to launch our new Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions, and offer training on our Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression. Both policies continue to meet with strong support in the community and in the media.

  • Speaking out about our concerns with the Toronto Police Service's and the Toronto Police Services Board's Policy and Procedure on Community Engagements – commonly called "carding" and working on creating a policy on racial profiling.

  • Entering the final stages of an updated Policy on preventing discrimination based on creed, scheduled for release later this year. This new policy lays out the responsibilities of employers, housing and service providers relating to creed, and includes an extensive section on the creed and spirituality of Indigenous peoples.

  • Reinforcing awareness of rights and responsibilities in areas like sexual harassment, pregnancy and breastfeeding and racial profiling.

  • Working with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (Correctional Services) and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) on a Human Rights Project Charter. This long-term organizational change project, which arose from the settlement of a long-standing human rights complaint, has now been extended to 2017.

  • Making a submission on police use of force to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director's Systemic Review of Ontario Provincial Police Practices for DNA Sampling.

  • Being involved in over 40 cases in the courts and tribunals that advance human rights law. Some examples include: accommodating mental health disabilities in correctional facilities, locker room access for transgender hockey players and municipal zoning related to minimum separation distances for group homes.

The report also includes an "Activity supplement" that lists details of the OHRC's legal, education and outreach activities in 2014-2015.

The Annual Report is available at www.ohrc.on.ca.

Aussi disponible en français

SOURCE Ontario Human Rights Commission

For further information: Afroze Edwards, Senior Communications Officer, Ontario Human Rights Commission, 416-314-4528


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