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What is Discrimination?

Discrimination is an action or a decision that treats a person or a group negatively for reasons such as their race, age or disability. These reasons are known as grounds of discrimination. Federal employers and service providers, as well as employers and service providers of private companies that are regulated by the federal government, cannot discriminate against individuals for these reasons.

These 11 grounds are protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act (see below):

- race
- national or ethnic origin
- colour
- religion
- age
- sex
- sexual orientation
- marital status
- family status
- disability
- a conviction for which a pardon has been granted or a record suspended.

There are several ways that a person could be discriminated against. The Canadian Human Rights Act calls these discriminatory practices. The following seven discriminatory practices are prohibited by the Canadian Human Rights Act when they are based on one or more of the 11 grounds of discrimination:

- Denying someone goods, services, facilities or accommodation. 
- Providing someone goods, services, facilities or accommodation in a way that treats them adversely and differently.
- Refusing to employ or continue to employ someone, or treating them unfairly in the workplace. 
- Following policies or practices that deprive people of employment opportunities.  - Paying men and women
 differently when they are doing work of the same value. 
- Retaliating against a person who has filed a complaint with the Commission or against someone who has filed a  
 complaint for them. 
- Harassing someone.

Federal employers are not allowed to discriminate against their employees. In fact, they are obligated to make every effort to accommodate an employee’s individual circumstances that relate to protected grounds of discrimination. We call this the duty to accommodate.

If you work for or receive services from a business or organization that is regulated by the federal government, and you believe you have experienced discrimination because of one of the 11 grounds, you can file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

The purpose of this Act is to extend the laws in Canada to give effect, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, to the principle that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

To view the Canadian Human Rights Act in its entirety, please click here.

The Ontario Human Rights Code (the "Code") states that it is public policy in Ontario to recognize the inherent dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination. The provisions of the Code are aimed at creating a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person, so that each person feels a part of the community and feels able to contribute to the community. Every person in Ontario has a right to be free from discrimination and harassment relating to sexual orientation in the all the social areas protected by the Code. These include employment, services, goods and facilities, housing accommodation, contracts, and membership in trade unions and vocational associations.

To view the Ontario Human Right Code in it's entirety, please click here.



180 Dundas Street West, 8th Floor, Toronto, Ontario M7A 0A1
Phone: 416-597-4900
Toll Free: 1-866-625-5179

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre is an independent agency, funded by the Government of Ontario, to provide legal services to individuals who have experienced discrimination. The Centre will provide legal assistance to individuals in taking an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to resolve a human rights dispute.​

655 Bay Street, 14th floor, Toronto, ON M7A 2A3
Phone: 416-326-1312
Toll-free: 1-866-598-0322

If you believe you have experienced discrimination or harassment, you can file an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). The HRTO resolves claims of discrimination and harassment brought under the Human Rights Code in a fair, just and timely way. The HRTO first offers parties the opportunity to settle the dispute through mediation. If the parties do not agree to mediation, or mediation does not resolve the application, the HRTO holds a hearing.


180 Dundas Street West, 9th Floor, Toronto, ON M7A 2G5
Phone: 416-326-9511
Toll Free: 1-800-387-9080

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) was established as an arm’s length agency of government in 1961 to prevent discrimination and to promote and advance human rights in Ontario. The OHRC is one pillar of Ontario’s human rights system, alongside the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC)

150 Goyeau Street, Windsor, ONT, N9A 6J5
Phone: 519-255-6700

Windsor Police Services Board (Board), Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), and Ontario Police College (OPC) launched a joint initiative to address policing and human rights issues. The four organizations have committed to implementing a shared Human Rights Project Charter that will run for a three year period. The main objective of the Human Rights Project (Project) is to develop and implement initiatives aimed at identifying, eliminating, and preventing any possible discrimination and racism in the Windsor Police Service’s employment practices and service delivery.

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