Media release

New private member’s bill to strengthen human rights in Ontario

Published on 05/10/2017

Maytree welcomes the amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code proposed in a private member’s bill introduced on October 4, 2017 by MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers (Ottawa–Vanier). If passed, Bill 164, Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2017 would not only modernize Ontario’s Human Rights Code, it would also strengthen economic and social rights for all people living in the province.

The proposed bill includes four new grounds to address discrimination faced by Ontarians: on the bases of immigration status, social condition, police records, and genetic characteristics.

“As an organization that looks at poverty from a rights perspective, the addition of social condition as a ground of discrimination to the Ontario Human Rights Code is particularly welcome,” says Elizabeth McIsaac, president of Maytree. “We know that many people living in poverty are discriminated against because of their social condition, for example because of their employment status or level of education. Passing the bill would send a strong message that discriminating against someone just because they’re poor is unacceptable. Of equal importance, the addition of social condition together with the three other new grounds of discrimination will prevent many people from falling into poverty in the first place.”

The bill’s introduction should also start a process of a province-wide discussion on the importance of human rights to allow people to participate fully in society and achieve their potential. The amendments are an important step toward addressing economic and social inequality in Ontario.

The new bill would strengthen the current Ontario Human Rights Code and ensure that more people living in poverty are protected from discrimination. The debate around the bill will be a chance to strengthen our understanding of why rights matter and highlight the importance of protecting and promoting everyone’s economic and social rights in Ontario.