Changes to Ontario Human Rights Act

On 20 December 2006, the revisions to the Ontario Human Rights Act came into effect (Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2006). In the past, the Ontario Human Rights Commission engaged in investigations, among other matters, and acted as a sort of gatekeeper for complaints going forward to hearings before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. A fundamental change is that now complainants file directly with the Tribunal. The time of the long drawn-out investigation is a thing of the past. Rather than waiting out months or years for the Commission to work through investigations, respondents to new complaints will find that they have to be ready to move quickly.

The legislation also does away with the screening process for frivolous and bad faith complaints without an oral hearing. According to one expert “Employers will need to be more proactive in investigating complaints [in their own workplace] and there is an enhanced need to have good human rights policies in place... Employers will also need good practices to ensure that their policies are known and implemented...” (Brian Smeenk, McCarthy Tetrault, LLP).

Originally published: Centre for Sport and Law Newsletter Vol. 3(1)

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