On October 4th 2017, I tabled a Private Member’s Bill which proposes to amend the Human Rights Code to include four new grounds of discrimination.
Discrimination on the basis of genetic characteristics
As science evolves, more and more people seek to know their genetic make-up, it is imperative that they not be disadvantaged in their access to employment, insurance, goods and services. The proposed amendments also protect someone who refuses to undergo a genetic test.
Discrimination on the basis of social condition
Manitoba, Northwest Territory and Québec all prohibit discrimination on the basis of social condition. Social condition is the disadvantage that comes from poverty, homelessness or lack of education. Prohibiting discrimination on the basis of social condition will allow the Human Rights Commission to educate Ontarians and ensure that negative stereotyping does not prevent people from accessing essential goods and services.
Discrimination on the basis of immigration status
Refugees, refugee claimants, and people with precarious immigration status often face discrimination in housing and in accessing various services. We have heard of landlords refusing to rent to refugee claimants and of public services requiring various proofs of permanent residency, citizenship or immigration status in assessing eligibility. When the question of immigration status is not relevant, it should not be asked.
Discrimination on the basis of police records
The Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in employment for persons who have received a pardon. The language is archaic and does not reflect the current federal laws, which uses the expression of “record suspension”. In addition, this provision has been interpreted in a way that does not protect people who were never convicted of anything, but are denied employment on the basis of police records which include charges abandoned or dismissed.
Discrimination in all its forms prevents people from fully participating in society and achieving their potential because of prejudice or negative perceptions that their fellow human beings hold. I am proposing this Bill to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to ensure that we have a human rights framework that works to prevent systemic discrimination.
I am asking people and organizations in Ottawa-Vanier to send me stories about how discrimination based on their immigration status, genetic characteristics, police records, and social condition has impacted them.
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