Human Rights Legal Support Centre

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Human Rights and COVID-19

Since the pandemic began, governments have introduced new laws and emergency measures which may be affecting your rights under the Human Rights Code.

  • Have you been laid off because you are in a high-risk category for COVID-19?
  • Are you wondering how to request to work from home to protect a person in your household in a high-risk category?
  • Has your landlord threatened to evict you because they think someone in your household is infected with COVID-19?
  • Have you been denied access to needed medical treatment due to restrictions on services related to COVID-19?

If you have any inquiries regarding your human rights and the COVID-19 pandemic, call us, we will provide you with free legal advice about your situation.

The Human Rights Code and COVID-19

The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination and harassment in certain social areas (e.g., employment, housing and public services).  The Code also prohibits discrimination on certain grounds (e.g., age, disability, race, place of origin, ancestry, ethnic origin, and family status). The Code states that you cannot be treated unfairly in any social area based on any ground.

In these unprecedented times of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting state of emergency in Ontario, it is more important than ever that human rights values and principles be observed and enforced. In this rapidly-changing landscape, a wide range of human rights legal issues are involved, and the Code’s fundamental obligations must be respected and upheld.

The impacts of COVID-19

The response to COVID-19 to date has seen far reaching requirements and rules that have affected aspects of our community life, including in the workplace, housing and public services (e.g., restaurants, public transportation, medical services and schools). In addition, other requirements and rules may be adopted by the public and private sectors as responses to the COVID-19 outbreak continue to evolve and change.

Some of these responses, rules and requirements may raise Code-based human rights concerns.  Many Code issues may arise in the context of employment-related health and safety concerns for workers.  We have heard of situations where workers were suspected of having COVID-19 simply because of their race, place of origin or disability. Other Code issues may arise over accommodations for workers with childcare responsibilities who are working at home.  These situations may involve the Code ground of family status. Furthermore, the services you are used to receiving may be changing or being limited.

Whatever the case, we at the Human Rights Legal Support Centre can help you understand your rights and responsibilities under the Code

More resources

You can find out more about the Centre’s response to the Code and COVID-19 here.

For more information about the Code and COVID-19, please refer to the following: