More resources, legislative amendments needed, says Ontario Human Rights Commission

Organization has reached a "critical point," says chief commissioner

The chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission is concerned the organization doesn’t have enough resources or the right legislation to do its job effectively.

Ken Norton is calling on the government, non-governmental organizations and individuals interested in human rights to take part in a review of Ontario’s human rights system to determine how it can be made stronger and more effective.

“For a number of years now, I have publicly stated that the commission is reaching a critical point in its ability to function effectively,” said Norton. “Without either an increase in financial resources or legislative amendments, I am concerned that the commission risks losing some or all of what it has worked hard to accomplish these past 10 years in both compliance and promotion of human rights.”

Norton said he welcomed a commitment by Ontario’s attorney general to development a blueprint for reform by winter. He said the commission’s review, pursuant to s. 29 of the Human Rights Code, will assist the attorney general in the blueprint process.

The commission has prepared a discussion paper entitled Reviewing Ontario’s Human Rights System that outlines United Nations’ principles and standards for effective human rights systems. Norton said the paper establishes a frame of reference for the commission’s review and reinforces the notion that any proposed reform must consider the system as a whole.

Focus groups planned

In September the commission will be meeting with selected stakeholders from various sectors.

The review will also include a questionnaire for public input, which will be posted on the commission’s website from Aug. 23 to Sept. 16. A public report on the results of the review will be published later in the fall.

For a copy of the discussion paper and more information about the commission, visit

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