Summarized below are the latest updates in the Human Rights Law.
A recent case from the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), Fraser v. Canada (Attorney General), 2020 SCC 28, addressed issues of adverse effect discrimination and gender equality in the context of a government job-sharing program under a statutory pension plan.
In July 2013, Mr. Roch Longueépée applied for admission to the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Arts program. He had attended Dalhousie University several years before where he achieved grades that were well below Waterloo’s minimum admission requirements for transfer students.
Waterloo accepted that Mr. Longueépée had undiagnosed and unaccommodated disabilities when he attended Dalhousie. An Admissions Committee considered his application, consisting of academic transcripts, information about his volunteer work, and reference letters. The Admissions Committee denied admission and concluded that Mr. Longueépée’s application did not demonstrate the ability to succeed at Waterloo.
In Sharma v. Toronto (City), 2020 HRTO 949 (CanLII), the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) considered an application challenging the new City of Toronto’s By-Law 541-2020. The By-Law, in effect since July 7, 2020, requires businesses and other establishments that are open to the public to adopt a policy to ensure that no member of the public is permitted entry to, or otherwise remains within, any enclosed space unless they are wearing a mask or face covering. The City enacted the temporary By-law to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
On November 20, 2020, Tribunals Ontario, which includes the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), provided new direction setting out the format of hearings and how a party can request a different hearing format.
Ontario government lifts the suspension of limitation and procedural time periods and both resume running on September 14, 2020
The province suspended the running of limitation and time periods on March 20, 2020, retroactive to March 16, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) which provided that any provision of any statute, regulation, rule, by-law or order of the province establishing either 1) any limitation period or 2) any period of time within which any step must be taken in any current or intended proceeding in Ontario was suspended for the duration of the declared emergency under the EMCPA. The latter – procedural time periods - was subject to the discretion of the court, tribunal or other decision-maker responsible for the proceeding.
New amendments to the Judicial Review Procedure Act (JRPA), including new 30-day deadline to file application
On July 8, 2020 Bill 161 – the Stronger and Smarter Justice Act, 2020 (SASJA, 2020) – received Royal Assent from the Ontario legislature. The SASJA, 2020 amends the JRPA to provide the courts with a generally applicable power to refuse to grant any relief on a judicial review application and, most importantly, requires judicial review applications to be brought within 30 days after the date the decision, or matter for which review is sought, was rendered, unless another Act provides otherwise. The Human Rights Code (Code) does not provide any time period for commencing an application for judicial review and this means that the new 30-day time period applies to applications for judicial review under section 45.8 of the Code.
The National Indigenous Peoples History month is traditionally a time when Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities come together across Turtle Island to celebrate Indigenous culture and achievements as well as learn about Indigenous social structures, languages and spirituality to name only a few aspects of complex Indigenous social systems.
June 12, 2020
“It is not possible to be in favour of justice for some people and not be in favour of justice for all people.” – Martin Luther King
The events of the past few weeks have pushed the issue of Anti-Black racism back to the forefront of society. We mourn the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, we’re outraged by the death of George Floyd in the custody of police, and we’re angered by the antics of Amy Cooper against Christian Cooper in Central Park. Sadly, countless other incidents of harassment and violence against Black people, as they go about their daily lives, can be added to this list. It’s time for change.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, organizations and communities across Ontario have to adapt quickly to a challenging situation. The HRLSC has taken precautionary measures in response to the ongoing developments.
As an essential service, the HRLSC continues to serve Ontarians to protect human rights and to support every person’s right to live and work with dignity and respect. Our offices are closed to visits, but our staff is working remotely, and our intake lines remain open.
The Small Claims Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice. It is a very busy court and handles nearly half of all civil claims in Ontario. The monetary jurisdiction of Ontario's Small Claims Court increased effective January 1, 2020. The jurisdiction of the Court will increase from $25,000 to $35,000. The claims limit of $25,000 has been in place since 2010 when it was increased from the previous $10,000. Claims over $35,000 would need to be brought in the Superior Court of Justice.
The Human Rights Tribunal (HRTO) is subject to judicial review by the courts under the Human Rights Code. This means that the courts have the final say about whether an HRTO decision complies with the law. An important part of judicial review is what is called the standard of review, which is a standard the court applies to the HRTO decision. There are two standards of review – correctness and reasonableness. Which one applies to the HRTO? The answer is – it depends on the nature of the legal question being reviewed by the court but, in almost every case, the standard applied to the HRTO will be reasonableness.
HRTO releases first decision interpreting the Tribunal Adjudicative Records Act, 2019: Public access to HRTO records is the default position under the open court principle
In June 2019, the Tribunal Adjudicative Records Act, 2019 (“TARA, 2019”) came into force. This was an important legislative development for those seeking access to justice in Ontario’s administrative tribunal sector, including applicants to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO).