Human Rights Legal Support Centre

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Ontario’s Human Rights System

This is general information only. It is not legal advice about your situation.

What is Ontario’s Human Rights Code?

The Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) is a provincial anti-discrimination law that applies to workplaces, housing, services, goods and facilities, as well as to contracts or agreements and to membership in trade or vocational associations.

To find out if the Code applies to your situation, go to: How do I know if the Code applies to my case? If you want to take legal steps to address an incident of discrimination, the deadline to do so is generally one year from the last discriminatory event or conduct.

For an explanation of each ground of discrimination covered by the Code, and the areas of discrimination, please read our “What is Discrimination” page.

If you believe you have experienced discrimination, please use our Do You Have a Claim tool to determine if what you have experienced is protected under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

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What is the difference between the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario?

Ontario's human rights system is made up of three separate agencies. The Human Rights Tribunal is where human rights applications are filed and decided. The Human Rights Legal Support Centre gives legal help to people who have experienced discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Ontario Human Rights Commission works to promote, protect and advance human rights through research, education and policy development.

For a more detailed explanation of each of the agencies and what they do, please read our “Ontario’s Human Rights System” page.

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Where can I find a general explanation of how Ontario’s Human Rights System works?

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has developed a Human Rights 101 tool on their web site to guide you through Ontario’s Human Rights System.

You can find the official legislation of the Human Rights Code on the government of Ontario’s web site.

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What kinds of services does the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) provide?

The HRLSC provides legal advice and assistance to individuals in communities across Ontario.

We can help you:

  • Resolve a dispute involving your rights under the Human Rights Code
  • File an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
  • Take your application to mediation or at a hearing before the Tribunal
  • Enforce an Order of the Tribunal if the Tribunal finds that you have experienced discrimination

Legal services, including representation, are provided on a stage-by-stage basis – for settlement negotiations, for filing an application, for mediation and for the hearing. This allows us to match the level and extent of service at each stage to a number of factors including the needs of the individual, the merits of the claim and the complexity of the evidentiary and legal issues.

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What if I don’t speak English or French? Can the HRLSC help me?

Yes. We provide service in 140 languages. You can also provide your own interpreter. Some information sheets are available on our web site in Chinese, Vietnamese, Urdu, Arabic, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Punjabi and Tagalog.

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Does the HRLSC serve people based on their income?

No. Applicants are not income-tested. However, we do have priorities for service. Please see our general eligibility criteria for service page.

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Can the HRLSC help me if I have been treated unfairly?

Not all unfair conduct treatment is discrimination that is covered by the Code. For the Code to apply, unequal treatment must have occurred in one of the five areas listed in the Code: employment, housing, goods, services and facilities, contracts and membership in trade and vocational associations. The unequal treatment must have been based on one or more of the grounds of discrimination in the Code and there must be a link between the ground and the unequal treatment.

If you believe you have experienced discrimination, please use our Do You Have a Claim tool to determine if what you have experienced is protected under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

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Is there another agency that can help me if I am experiencing unfair treatment that is not discrimination?

The unfairness you are experiencing may be covered by another agency or legislation such as the Employment Standards Act.

You may also be able to use the services of the Ontario Ombudsman, or the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.

Also see the Community Legal Education of Ontario web site with legal information and resources on a wide range of topics in 40 languages.

For general legal help see: Legal Aid Ontario

For a comprehensive list of agencies across Ontario see 211 Ontario

211 is a three-digit phone number and website that provides information and referral to 56,000 community and social services in Ontario. Their phone service is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and is available in more than 150 languages.

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