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New Human Rights Policy for Ontarians With Mental Illness or Addiction

Ontario Human Rights Commission releases guidelines to prevent discrimination.

Screenshot from http://www ohrc on ca/en

Screenshot from http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en.

In Ontario, organizations are legally required to prevent violations of the Human Rights Code, and to respond appropriately to any such violation. Employers and those who provide housing and services must honour the rights of Ontarians with mental health or addiction disabilities.

But people aren’t always clear about what their rights are, or how they can be understood or applied in different contexts. Stigma and the fear of discrimination can make questions more difficult to ask. And codes and statutes, can, of course, be difficult to parse, even for the legally initiated.

In response to such challenges, the Ontario Human Rights Commission today released its Policy on Preventing Discrimination Based on Mental Health Disabilities and Addictions, intended to help people “define, assess, handle and resolve human rights issues related to mental health and addiction disabilities.”

The policy outlines

  • different forms of discrimination;
  • rights at work, in rental housing, and when receiving services;
  • organizations’ responsibilities to prevent and eliminate discrimination;
  • how to create environments that are inclusive and free of discrimination; and
  • how the duty to accommodate applies to people with mental health or addiction disabilities.

“Fear, ignorance and a lack of understanding has led to unequal access to opportunities for people with mental health or addiction disabilities in our society,” said OHRC chief commissioner Barbara Hall, in a press release. “I believe people are now ready to accept that everyone must be treated equitably. I hope that this policy will become a tool for change.”

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