Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bill Would Protect against Discrimination Based on Genetics, Immigration Status, Social Condition and Police Records

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bill Would Protect against Discrimination Based on Genetics, Immigration Status, Social Condition and Police Records

Article excerpt

Ontario MPP wants to expand human rights code

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TORONTO - Discriminating against someone on the basis of their genetics, immigration status, social condition and police records would be a violation of their rights in Ontario under a proposed bill introduced in the provincial legislature.

The private member's bill, tabled by Liberal legislator Nathalie Des Rosiers, would expand and modernize Ontario's human rights code which was first established in 1962. If passed, the legislation would add the four new areas of rights protection to the code and give anyone discriminated against recourse they currently don't have at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

Des Rosiers, a former human rights lawyer, said the code as it stands has gaps and doesn't fully protect many of the province's residents, especially those in poor or marginalized communities.

"In my view, Ontario must have a Human Rights Code that addresses fully the new types of discrimination that Ontarians may feel and may face," she said.

"The purpose of this bill is to recognize there is a role for government in ensuring we respond proactively to discrimination," she added.

Des Rosiers said the changes would bring Ontario's Human Rights Code in line with other codes across Canada and around the world. It would also ensure that people have fair access to employment, insurance and goods and services.

Des Rosiers said discrimination based on social condition, like poverty, homelessness or lack of education, is prevalent. Her bill will combat negative stereotyping and help people living in poverty access essential services, she said.

"We know that poor people are often treated differently," she said. "(They're) told to move out of certain stores, of malls or offices, for no good reason."

Des Rosiers said immigrants to Ontario also face discrimination, often when attempting to find housing where immigration status should be irrelevant.

"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 order to determine eligibility or to offer a service," she said. …

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