Ontario Human rights Reform - A call to Action
FIX THE FLAWED BILL 107 ACTION KIT
May 18, 2006
On April 26, 2006, the McGuinty Government introduced the seriously-flawed Bill 107, its proposed Human Rights Code Amendment Act, into the Legislature for First Reading. Bill 107 sets back human rights protection. It seriously weakens the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the public agency responsible to enforce your right not to suffer illegal discrimination. We appreciate both the opposition Conservative and New Democratic Parties voicing our concerns with Bill 107 in the Legislature.
We urge everyone to act now to help with our campaign to fix Bill 107 so it makes things better, not worse. This Kit:
- Suggests three easy ways you can help our campaign.
- summarizes what Bill 107 does
- Explains what’s wrong with Bill 107, and
- Explains the three changes to Bill 107 we seek.
2. THREE WAYS YOU CAN HELP
- Email every single Liberal MPP now. Tell them you oppose Bill 107’s
weakening the Human Rights Commission. You can cut and paste from this
Action Kit. It is better if you put your message in your own words. Get
others to write to them too.
In a nutshell, we oppose Bill 107 because it takes away rights from us, because it doesn’t do what the Government says it does, and because it betrays the McGuinty Government’s understanding with the disability community regarding enforcement of the new Disability Act. We want the bill amended to eliminate these problems. Urge all MPPs to support our three proposed changes to Bill 107, listed below.
For names, addresses, email, and phone numbers of all Ontario MPPs, visit:
- Email a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star and any other
newspapers. Tell them what you think of McGuinty’s plan to weaken the Human
Rights Commission. Email the Toronto Star at:
Other media addresses are at: http://odacommittee.net/action-tip36.html
- The Government promises a Standing Committee of the Legislature will
hold province-wide public hearings on Bill 107. We don’t know when these
will occur. Ask to make a presentation at the Standing Committee. Tell the
Standing Committee what you think of Bill 107, and propose amendments. We’ll
give more tips on this as soon as we can. Whether you will present as an
individual or on behalf of a community organization, send your request to
make a presentation to these addresses:
Government House Leader, Jim Bradley: firstname.lastname@example.org
PC House Leader, Bob Runciman: email@example.com
NDP House Leader, Peter Kormos: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. WHAT BILL 107 DOES
The Ontario Human Rights Code makes it illegal for anyone to discriminate against you because of your disability, sex, religion, race, or certain other grounds. It bans discrimination in access to things like employment and the enjoyment of goods, services and facilities. If you believe someone discriminated against you because of your disability or other protected ground, you can file a human rights complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). The OHRC must investigate your complaint and try to mediate a voluntary settlement. It can send a lawyer to prosecute your case before the Human Rights Tribunal if the evidence warrants it, and if your case hasn’t voluntarily settled. You pay no user fees.
Bill 107 takes away the OHRC’s public investigation powers. It removes the OHRC as public prosecutor in most human rights cases. It cuts back on the OHRC’s power to launch its own human rights complaints.
Under Bill 107, if you’ve been discriminated against, you’ll have to file your human rights complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal. You must investigate your own case. The Commission loses its investigation powers. You’ll have to get a lawyer to present your case, or represent yourself. The Government says it will give every complainant legal representation. Bill 107 doesn’t guarantee this. Bill 107 lets the Tribunal charge you user fees.
To read Bill 107 visit:
To read the current Human rights Code, visit:
4. BILL 107’S SERIOUS PROBLEMS
- Bill 107 takes away important rights the Human Rights Code has
guaranteed for decades, like the right to public investigation of human
rights cases, the right to public prosecution where evidence warrants, the
right to fair procedures at the Human Rights Tribunal, the right to appeal
to court from the Tribunal, and freedom from Tribunal user fees.
- Bill 107 doesn’t do what the Government says it does. Contrary to
Government claims, it doesn’t guarantee a public hearing and publicly-funded
lawyer to all discrimination victims. It doesn’t create the promised new
Human Rights Legal Support Clinic to serve all 11 million Ontarians. It
gives the Government absolute power to fund public legal assistance as
little as it wants, or to refuse to fund it.
- By this bill, the McGuinty Government betrays an important understanding with Ontario’s disability community. Dalton McGuinty promised effective enforcement in his new Disability Act, the AODA. The Government said last year that we don’t need a new enforcement agency in the AODA, since the Human Rights Commission investigates and prosecutes disability discrimination complaints. Now, the Government unfairly turns around and plans to rip out most of the Human Rights Commission’s teeth. Bill 107 merely re-invents an old Disability Secretariat within the commission, but gives it no investigation powers.
5. OUR PROPOSALS TO FIX BILL 107
We’d prefer that the Government start from scratch and hold a proper public consultation, before introducing a human rights reform bill. However, the Government seems intent on pressing forward with Bill 107. Thus we call for these changes to the bill:
- Amend Bill 107 to ensure that it doesn’t take away any rights the Human
Rights Code now gives us. For example, Bill 107 should be amended to give
discrimination victims the choice of either taking their case right to the
Human Rights Tribunal, or opting for the Human Rights Commission to
investigate their case, and to prosecute it if evidence warrants it.
- Amend Bill 107 to ensure it does what the Government says it does, e.g.
to guarantee all human rights complainants’ right to publicly-funded legal
representation at all Tribunal proceedings.
- Amend Bill 107 to ensure that the OHRC retains all its current powers and duties to enforce disability rights, or to create a new strong, effective independent enforcement agency to receive, investigate, mediate and prosecute disability complaints.